|Why We Still Have a Massive Homelessness Problem (Hard Times USA)
Most people would agree that the Federal government has abandoned any pretense of its responsibility to “ensure safe, decent and affordable” (Housing Act, 1937) housing for the poorest people in our country as it committed to do in 1937 when what is now HUD was formed. After years of funding cuts, neglect and demolitions, the 1998 Congress went so far as to say “the federal government can not be held accountable to ensure housing for even a majority of its citizens” (Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act, 1998). While they may have ignored their legislative mandate from 1937, they have with great conviction, adhered to the 1998 (lack of) responsibility.
Year after year we hear of yet another series of funding cuts, of Section 8 units being converted to market rate, of additional Public Housing units being demolished with no intention of ever replacing them, and of yet even more tightening of eligibility criteria so as to exclude people from even being able to apply for housing assistance.
Couple this with the loss of factory jobs through corporate tax credits for relocation overseas, ever shrinking time limits on welfare assistance, foreclosures, the rising cost of healthcare and the increasing disparity between rich and poor, absolutely, no wonder that homelessness has stayed with us for the past 30 years. In fact, it would be a miracle if it hadn’t.
Since 1983, local governments have been expected to manage this crisis with nothing more from the Feds than a miniscule amount of funding for emergency shelters, social workers, and a very small number of transitional housing units. In true Washington DC fashion, local communities are being faced with more and more reporting requirements, more and more information systems programs to comply with, and of course the ever evolving plans they are required to write with the concurrent, and completely useless, oversight commissions they are required to create.