This just in: the Senate just passed the first piece of the Jobs bill (recap: once upon a time, there was one giant Senate Jobs bill. But some people thought it’d be better to break it up into a bunch of little bills). This $15 billion bill is focused primarily on providing tax credits for employers who are hiring – and especially hiring the unemployed.
More, similar legislation will be coming down the pike, but no where in the distance is one key element that we – the Alliance and homeless asisistance providers and advocates – are looking for.
Additional funding for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). As a part of the Jobs Bill, we at the Alliance are hoping for $1 billion. Here’s why:
The unemployment outlook has worsened significantly since HPRP was created last year, which puts more people in danger of becoming homeless. It was designed to help 600,000 people, but communities are finding there are more people who need assistance than we’d planned for.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), communities from states – including California, Michigan, Nebraska, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, and South Carolina – have reported that there are far more families who are homeless or at-risk than there is money to help them get back on their feet. An additional $1 billion to extend HPRP would prevent and end homelessness for an estimated additional 200,000 households.
What’s more, HPRP is creating jobs. According to our analysis, current allocations create one full-time, three-year job for each $600,000 of HPRP funding allocated – this means 2,500 jobs through the existing funding. The remaining money provides temporary rent subsidies to landlords, funding more jobs in the rental housing industry and helping with historic high vacancy rates for rental housing.
I know it’s not the easiest concept to wrap around, but the moral is this: providing more prevention and rapid re-housing assistance not only helps individuals and families stay out of homelessness – but it creates jobs in the process. As we move toward creating legislation to improve the economy, let’s make sure to keep an eye on those who need the most.
It’ll be an uphill battle, but help for the homeless belongs in the Jobs bill. Let’s make it happen.