Billions flow to cities through housing grants
Something significant happened this week. U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced $1.8 billion in funding for housing grants. The money will begin flowing to cities to provide assistance to approximately 8,400 homeless individuals.
HUD is also funding 25 other new projects to provide permanent housing for individuals and families in areas with especially high need.
Sounds like a lot of money…and it definitely is.
Some taxpayers will react and proclaim that government is expanding welfare to the point of encouraging individuals not to work or take responsibility for their own lives. Others will argue that the money could be better spent elsewhere. However, it’s important to look closely and count the cost of not addressing homelessness in America. Whether government provides assistance for homeless individuals or not, the related expenses are incurred through public safety costs, emergency medical care, public shelters and rehabilitation services.
It costs taxpayers $40,000 a year for every homeless person on the streets, according to a 2012 report from HUD. That comes to more than $24 billion annually. The only way to lower these costs is to have fewer homeless people on the streets in America.
Last year the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that “on a single night in January of 2013, 610,042 people were homeless.” The report counted 58,063 homeless veterans, 46,924 homeless youth and 222,197 homeless families. The numbers are staggering! Thousands are classified as chronic homeless persons, but thousands more are categorized as neglected children, families without an income and individuals with mental health-related disabilities.
Cities and states work diligently to address this problem. Providing assistance is, of course, the humane thing to do, but assistance is required also because costs will escalate even more if there is no help for individuals who can be salvaged. The housing grants announced this week is an attempt to get people who have no place to live into some sort of home. Data proves that when people have homes, the chances of rehabilitation are much greater.
The new funding will create commercial opportunities for local firms providing construction, renovation and retrofit services. Hopefully it will also make communities safer, reduce taxpayer costs and offer homeless individuals another chance for a better life.