Funding Housing Trust Fund and Housing First
Could Shift Housing and Homelessness Policy
On November 30, 2012, The Nation featured the article, “This Week in Poverty: A Wake-Up Call on Housing and Homelessness.”
Greg Kaufman, the author begins by focusing on the uncertainty that federally funded low-income housing programs, including public housing and the Housing Choice voucher program, and their tenants face given the uncertainty in Congress around sequestration and the “so-called” fiscal cliff.
“These are individuals who have no other means of living affordably,” says Amy Clark of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “If you lose your voucher, and then end up paying half or three-quarters of your income for housing, what do you have left for medical expenses, or for anything for that matter? Sequestration is a really serious personal issue for a lot of people.”
The article calls for the need to fund the National Housing Trust Fund and for “a fundamental shift in housing policy.”
Part of this shift could include expanded funding for the very successful Housing First model. Housing First moves the chronically homeless into permanent housing directly from the street or shelter without the pre-requisite of complying with services.
“What really made the program take off in the late 1990s was a five-year study showing that participants had higher retention rates, improved long-term housing outcomes, and decreased time in jail, emergency rooms, and hospitals—‘all three of which are incredibly expensive,’ says Christy Respress, Executive Director of Pathways to Housing, in Washington, DC —compared to participants in programs that require people to accept treatment before being offered housing. These results garnered bipartisan political support for the program.”
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