Kudos to the New York Times for recognizing the critical importance of the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget.
In a recent editorial, the New York Times called it a “foolish time to cut housing aid,” emphasizing that the bulk of the HUD budget goes to help low-income people and families stay stably housed. Rent vouchers, housing counseling programs, and homelessness aid and prevention are just some of the ways the HUD budget is utilized to assist the most vulnerable Americans from experiencing further hardship – an important cause during these troubled economic times.
Obviously, we at the Alliance couldn’t agree more with the astute observations made in the paper of record.
As these years of heightened unemployment, joblessness, and poverty persist, the people who are most vulnerable to the blows of a sluggish economy – people living in poverty – are at increased risk of experiencing homelessness. Just one unexpected financial crisis – a medical emergency, a job loss, a robbery – could throw a poor family into housing jeopardy. In fact, the Alliance recently projected a five percent increase in homelessness based on this year’s poverty data.
Luckily, we know the right strategies to end avert, prevent, and end homelessness. The Alliance has long championed Housing First, prevention and rapid re-housing, diversion, and other evidence-based, proven methods to both end homelessness and prevent it before it begins. Many of these strategies have produced measurable reductions in homelessness in cities and communities across the country.
In fact, the federal government has adopted and subsidized some of these strategies. In 2009, President Obama authorized the creation of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, a $1.5 billion initiative to prevent and end homelessness resulting from the recession. The three-year initiative was critical to avoiding significant increases in homelessness during these recessionary years. But while the program is coming to an end, the need for those resources is not. That the impact of the recession continues to afflict Americans across the country is a truth that hardly needs retelling.
The Alliance joins the New York Times editorial board in their appeal to increase the HUD budget. The programs that the department funds are a worthy and important investment that could significantly benefit the people and families hit hardest by the economy. And indeed, this is no time to abandon needy families.