Access to Affordable Housing Saves Healthcare Costs
Kevin Martone, a former Executive Director of Advance Housing and Assistant Commissioner of Human Services for the State of New Jersey addressed the audience connecting the affordable housing crisis and the importance of fighting both cuts to housing programs and cuts to Medicaid at the Congressional Reception.
Kevin Martone, Executive Director of the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC)
“When I was the mental health commissioner in New Jersey, I got to see firsthand the housing challenges that people experience in the state,” said Kevin. “And I see them now nationally in my work at TAC.”
“I remember vividly several years ago, a conversation with a gentleman who had schizophrenia who was in one of the state hospitals in New Jersey,” Kevin told the audience. “He was stuck there basically due to the lack of affordable housing. It was really a violation of his civil rights.” Kevin reminded the audience that unfortunately, this man’s experience was not unique.
“Budgets are more than math,” said Kevin. “We need our elected officials to see people and faces when they do the math.”
TAC’s upcoming report, Priced Out details the affordable housing crisis faced by people with disabilities.
“But here’s the take away from that report, New Jersey is one of 15 states with average statewide rents above 100% of SSI,” said Keivin. “What does that mean? It means that you have a disability, you are on SSI and you have to pay 151% of your SSI income to rent a one bedroom apartment in New Jersey. That’s mathematically impossible – that doesn’t work.”
Kevin told the audience, “New Jersey has an affordable housing crisis and it hurts people. It puts more people on the street, in psychiatric hospitals and in jails.”
Kevin reminded the audience that “When people have access to affordable housing, affordable housing saves healthcare costs.” And he made the case that federal affordable housing and Medicaid funding is closely connected.
Kevin reminded the audience why it is so critical that they share their stories with their elected officials. He said, “Not only do they want to cut healthcare assistance, they want to cut your healthcare, too.”
“Cuts to Medicaid and Housing will hurt the same people and we really need to convey that message,” said Kevin.
“If you need housing assistance and you can’t get it, the more you’ll have to pay for housing and the less you’ll have available for critical healthcare services,” concluded Kevin. “These things go hand in hand. And we need to fight them on both fronts. We need to make sure that Congress hears that cuts to HUD and cuts to Medicaid and elsewhere in the budget, other social services programs hurt the same people – you – and that’s not o.k.”