Writes Yamiche Alcindor, “A movement to use federal programs to offer treatment and a place to live to the chronically ill has a new worry: expected cuts and tax code changes.”
The article tells the story of Jamal Brown, who lives in Camden and was chronically ill and homeless. A staff person from the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers visited Brown in the hospital and offered him a federal housing voucher. Brown struggled with addiction and had a series of three strokes with the last one ending up in the hospital.
Once he moved into his apartment, Brown’s life stabilized. “Within months, Mr. Brown, who had been bouncing between shelters, had a one-bedroom apartment in Somerdale, N.J., 10 miles from where his father first introduced him to crack cocaine. Mr. Brown has not been back to an emergency room since.”
In some communities, partnerships between hospitals and local housing authorities are helping the two “silos” work together to provide housing vouchers to patients. And these partnerships are having great success. But this success is now jeopardized.
In other communities, “Some hospitals have created their own housing divisions that are acting as real estate developer. These hospitals are buying, renovating and renting apartments to their patients.
“But that movement has a new worry: deep but unspecified cuts that President Trump has proposed for housing programs, including rental assistance; and a sweeping simplification of the tax code that could reduce targeted tax breaks like those aimed at developers of low-income housing, in order to lower tax rates broadly.”
Brown explains the before and after impact that stable and affordable housing has had on his life.
“The shelter is mayhem. Here, I don’t have to worry about distractions or people stealing from me or who is sleeping above me,” said Mr. Brown, who pays $117 in rent and receives $750 in supplemental security income each month.
Dr. Jeffrey Brenner founded the Camden Coalition and is now the vice president for integrated health and human services with United Healthcare.
Says Brenner, “If you’re living in a tent and the temperature drops and it’s 20 degrees out, and you ran out of firewood, and you’re tired and you’re cold and you’re hungry, all you have got to do is go down to our local hospital, Cooper Hospital, complain of chest pain, and you bought two nights of a fluffy pillow, a private room, a flat-screen TV and room service,”
The future of tax credits that are used to create affordable housing is uncertain.
“So far, Mr. Trump has said nothing about the low-income housing tax credit, which could be worth $40 billion to $50 billion over the next 10 years. But as Congress takes on tax reform after failing to pass new health care legislation will most likely be reviewed.”