Today’s post comes from the Director of the Homelessness Research Institute, Bill Sermons.
As a researcher, my work can be boiled down to a combination of sharing what I know and learning new things. My time at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2011 Annual Housing Policy Conference last week was a excellent chance to do a little of both.
On the sharing side, I gave a presentation in a workshop on Monday entitled, What Do We Know About Homelessness. There, I was able to share many of the findings of HRI’s most recent major publication, The State of Homelessness in America. When asked by an audience member preparing for last Wednesday’s lobby day for a particular finding that congressional leaders might find compelling, I pointed to the portion of The State of Homelessness that illustrates the high odds of experiencing homelessness faced by young adults aging out of foster care (1 in 6 annually), doubled up individuals and families (1 in 10 annually), and people released from jail or prison (1 in 11 annually).
On Tuesday, it was my time to learn something new. I attended a presentation by Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba of the Children’s Health Watch given during the Connecting Housing to Food Access and Children’s Health Issues workshop. She presented on a new study of the negative impacts on health and food security of being behind on rent. Some of the results were not that surprising. They found, for example, that stably housed families are better off than either homeless families or families behind on rent in terms of health and food security. However, I was surprised to learn that the families behind on rent were considerably more likely than homeless families to experience food insecurity and to make trade-offs to pay medical bills or to forego health care. While I was fully aware that high rent burdens place families at risk of homelessness, this result highlights the health and well being toll faced by cost-burdened families.
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