Lack of Affordable Housing and Rental Vouchers Barriers in Ending Homelessness
“I’m educated. I look just like you. I walk and talk well. But I don’t have a roof. And I don’t have my own key,” she said. Pringle became homeless when her rent became unaffordable.
Her story illustrates how one crisis can cause someone’s live to spiral into homelessness. She stays at a shelter in Newark and has been homelessness for a little over a year.
According to the NJCounts 2016 conducted on January 26, 2016, New Jersey saw an almost 12.5 percent this year compared to 2015. Monarch Housing coordinates the annual count of the homeless which found a little over 8,900 homeless men, women and children statewide. In 2015 there were just over 10,000.
“Folks that are experiencing barriers such as loss of job income, loss of benefits, maybe they have a disabling condition they’re struggling with or a traumatic event like being victimized by domestic violence,” said Monarch Housing’s Jay Everett.
Everett cited the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, affordable rent and funding for voucher programs as key barriers to preventing an ending homelessness in New Jersey.
“It’s really great to have voucher programs that may help someone lease up in the community, be stabilized, but … you have to have housing available that’s affordable. If you’re giving someone temporary help and they can’t afford it afterwards, it’s not helpful to them,” he said.
The federal Housing Choice Voucher program provides permanent and affordable rental housing.
Even given the decrease in homelessness, the number of unsheltered individuals– individuals living on the street or in cars or other buildings – has increased. That number of unsheltered individuals increased by 48%, from 974 people in 2015 to just over 1,400 this year.
“It is one of the baseline measurements we use to try to track how our efforts are doing and what people are struggling with. So it’s not a complete picture but we also try to glean what we can about what the needs are,” Everett said.
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