The Best Way To Stop Homelessness? Support Homeless & Eviction Prevention Programs


  • The best way to stop homelessness?  Prevent it from happening in the first place.
  • State & city efforts to prevent long-term homelessness have reduced homelessness nationwide by 1% over 2009-2011, but federal funding for these programs ended in September of 2012.
  • Public based eviction prevention programs have been seriously stretched by the prolonged weak economic recovery.
  • Most Cities have effective non-profit eviction prevention programs.
  • Support Eva’s Village comprehensive anti-poverty & homelessness prevention programs by volunteering or donating.

By Joanne Fagan | Eva’s Village, Paterson New Jersey – October 26, 2012

Last January, 2012, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that the number of homeless  in America decreased by about 1% over the period of 2009 to 20111, a remarkable achievement given one of the  slowest economic recoveries on record — just after one of the worst recessions on record.  The NAEH credits the decrease to stepped up efforts2 by the federal government to rapidly find affordable housing for the recently homeless.

Unfortunately, this national effort ended on September 30, 2012 at a time of increasing risk factors for homelessness. Specifically, over the same period, 2009 – 2011, the NAEH reports that because a greater share of Americans’ income now goes to paying the rent and mortgage,  there has been a 13% increase in families sharing housing.  Additionally the number of people living below the poverty rate has increased every year since 20093.  While this data does not include 2012 trends, given even slower economic recovery this year compared to 2011 and 20104, we can assume the risk factors have, at the very least, remained elevated this year.

While these risk factors predict more Americans will fall behind on their rent and mortgage payments, landlords and banks will usually do everything they can to avoid the heart wrenching process of throwing people out on the streets because of the costs involved.  Specifically, once the tenant has left the apartment, landlords rarely collect back rent, and the apartment must sit empty until someone new can move in. Banks know they will likely incur losses if a home goes into foreclosure.

Eviction Prevention Programs Are Effective But They Can't Help Everyone
Eviction Prevention Programs Are Effective But They Can't Help Everyone
Because of the cost of an eviction, landlords and banks will often cooperate with local public and private eviction programs, but it’s not an easy process, at least in big cities like New York City where the number of homeless has been increasing and public rental and housing assistance programs cannot keep up with demand5.

In addition to public eviction prevention programs, most cities have numerous non-profit and charity eviction prevention programs. These programs get their funding from private donations and grants. These programs mediate between landlords/banks and tenants, they provide legal help, and they can also provide financial help, either public or private to help someone catch up on rent or mortgage payments. However, these agencies cannot help everyone.   In most cases, these programs can only provide short term help during a time of temporary crisis, e.g., they can only help those who have good prospects of finding adequate work or who qualify for entitlements.

What You Can Do To Help Those On The Verge Of Homelessness

  • If you know someone facing eviction, help them find and contact local eviction prevention programs, city-based and private.
  • If you’re a landlord, it is almost always far more cost-effective to first try to prevent eviction than to go through the legal process of getting a court order.  Consider working with a local charity or public social service agency.
  • Consider volunteering in local programs that help those who were homeless but have recently found homes or apartments to successfully stay in those homes or apartments. The recently homeless often do not have good tenant or homeowner skills and resources, e.g., they may lack cleaning supplies; they may not fully understand their responsibilities laid out in a lease; they may need help managing and staying on top of their utilities and other bills.

© 2012, Eva’s VillageOne of the Highest Rated Charities in the U.S.

References

1. The State Of Homeless in America 2012. Peter Witte, January 2012, The Homelessness Research Institute.
2. (HPRP) Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
3. Poverty: 2010 and 2011. Alemayehu Bishaw, U.S. Census Bureau, September 2012.
4. U.S. Growth Slows to 2.2%, Report Says. Shaila Dewan, New York Times, April 27, 2012.
5. Give Me Shelter: Families Overwhelm Remaining Housing Subsidy, Evictions on the Rise in the City, Cindy Rodriguez, WNYC, October 19, 2012.

Resources


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