There’s Shelter and Then There’s Housing

Vouchers Key to Permanently
Ending Family Homelessness

There’s Shelter And Then There’s HousingA December 14, 2015 NPR news story, “There’s Shelter, And Then There’s Housing. Utah Claims Muted Victory” goes beyond Utah’s success in almost housing its chronically homeless population and shares the story of just one of the families experiencing homelessness in the state.

“Jennifer Carter has been living at the shelter with her two children, who are 5 and 7, for about two months.” And, unfortunately, Carter and her family are not alone. In Utah, “An additional 14,000 people in Utah experienced homelessness this year. As in many places around the country, housing prices are rising, forcing people onto the street and into shelters.”

Living in a shelter dormitory does not make life easy but Carter is determined to find work again and searches every day. But even when she finds work, the college graduate worries about finding rent affordable enough to permanently house her family. Other expenses – childcare, food, and utilities all add up. The federal rapid re-housing program can help her afford rent temporarily is not a long-term solution.

“ … As housing prices continue to rise, in Utah and in most major cities across the U.S., this won’t work long-term, says Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

‘A better solution would be to have more longer-term rental subsidies,’ says Roman. ‘But we don’t have them. So rapid rehousing is better than leaving people in shelter.’ The real need, Roman says, is simply more affordable places for people to live.”

Congress should increase funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program which provides permanent subsidies that would allow families like Carter’s to move into permanent homes.

“It’s a mystery as to why there’s not more attention paid to it,” says Roman. “Congress regularly ranks housing as one of the things that they’re least interested in pursuing or working on. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of political will around it, and it’s hard to see, with 560,000 homeless people on any given night, how bad things have to get before we decide to do something about it.”

Click here for the full story.

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