Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Some groups ("Housing First") argue that the simplest solution to homelessness is to give people housing (to "rent"); where does this lead?


Today, AOL’s mail page greeted me with a story (by Drake Baer, May 31) and video about homelessness.  The "ridiculously simple" way to deal with it is to “give people housing” to rent.  I’m not sure how this fits into existing social welfare programs in most states.  The link is here and includes a 6-minute video.  This story appears to come from AOL’s paywall; subscription service, and I haven’t seen it yet free on Huffington, but if may appear there soon.
  
The story quotes the Economic Roundtable’s study of homeless in the Silicon Valley, CA, here.
  
The story also discusses a group called “Housing First” in many states, including (for example) Utah. 
  
 This seems to be a confederation of like local organizations, for example here

I haven't heard about this at Mt. Olivet's Community Assistance (the "organized chaos") in Arlington VA, but it sounds logical that it would come up.  The pastor's reaction is that a good comparison could be made to Habitat for Humanity, and one would wonder how many beneficiaries keep their homes indefinitely. 
   
The strategy would seem to be a “sharing economy” approach (perhaps with website development) of matching landlords willing to rent apartments to the indigent (I presume with some sort of subsidy) to individual clients, which would include many military veterans.  It’s not quite clear why existing programs don’t already do that.
  
It’s also not quite clear if this initiative would lead to asking individual homeowners or families to house indigent people (the “spare room” idea we heard proposed during the Cuban refugee crisis in 1980).  On the surface, that obviously raises many issues:  support, insurance, security, and the like.  But that’s a logical place to go with this.
  
The concept would seem to demand more of individuals than most other ideas.
  
In the past, on the other hand, other progressive media sources have suggested that giving poor people “money” is the easiest way to get stability.  Dylan Matthews on Vox suggested this in 2014 here.  Also note a recent Vox story about welfare in Kansas 

Update: June 11 

I noticed a building with a sign for A-span, in Arlington County Va.  

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