“An interesting debate is percolating in the evaluation of our federal antipoverty programs. President Obama’s recent emphasis on the problem of high inequality and low upward mobility has forced conservatives to join that debate, and they’ve developed a meme that, at the risk of straining the metaphor, goes like this:
Our current spate of anti-poverty programs operate more like a hammock than a safety net when what we really need is a trampoline.”
Related to the issue of homelessness, writes Bernstein
”Housing assistance is also found to have positive, lasting investment-type impacts, especially when compared with the damage to children who experience homelessness, overcrowding and frequent moves that involve changing school systems.”
Supportive housing and affordable housing both prevent and end homelessness. Giving a child his or her own space to do homework and eat a family meal will have a lasting impact. Both supportive housing and affordable housing are critical investments with a positive long-term return.
‘… If we want to correctly understand and evaluate the impact of policies currently helping poor families, we need to recognize that often what looks like consumption is actually investment. Both functions are important, for stomachs today and for souls tomorrow.’