Should the homeless be given free housing? | The Tylt

Should the homeless be given free housing?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the homeless population is up for the first time since 2010. Homeless advocates say the best way to end homelessness is to provide free housing. It's simple, housing provides the stability homeless individuals need to get back on their feet. But there is disagreement as to whether housing alone would actually solve the homeless problem—not to mention the cost. What do you think? 🏠

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According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the homeless population is up for the first time since 2010. And despite code blue policies that guarantee protections for the homeless in freezing temperatures, many shelters are reaching capacity. 

Homeless advocates say the best way to end homelessness is by giving people housing. It's simple, housing provides the stability homeless people need to get their lives together. Studies have found that, on average, people struggling with homelessness use the emergency room five times a year. Each visit costs around $3,700. When given housing, health care costs drop dramatically.

But we shouldn't be giving the homeless housing just because it would cost taxpayers less money. We should be giving homeless people housing because it is the right thing to do. Housing first programs have a track record of working. It's obvious the current strategies used to stop homelessness are ineffective. Around 549,928 people were homeless in 2016 and that number is only growing.

As Dr. Sam Tsemberis puts it, it's just common sense: provide the homeless with homes and you'll solve the problem.

“It’s not a matter of whether we know how to fix the problem. Homelessness is not a disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s where we don’t yet have a cure. We have the cure for homelessness—it’s housing. What we lack is political will.”
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But critics argue the reality of homelessness is much more complicated. For one, there simply isn't enough housing to go around. California imposed a moratorium on spending for low-income housing because it just cost too much to build. Utah, a state celebrated for "solving" its homelessness problem, is seeing low-income housing shortages that threaten the viability of its housing-first program altogether.

Without solving the housing crisis, states will continue to see a steady stream of people who will experience chronic homelessness. At best, Housing First is a band-aid solution, which only works to help long-term disabled homeless people. But it's not a solution that will work for all homeless people—there simply isn't enough money or homes to go around. Plus, spending on Housing First initiatives cuts directly into the budget of many shelters, who are in dire need of support.

Recent weeks have brought devastating news for many of the shelters coping with a surge of homelessness in cities across the country: The federal funding they have relied on to house, feed, and care for some of the very neediest Americans is going away... [HUD policymakers] have become believers in the philosophy know as “Housing First,” which holds that moving people into permanent, independent housing as quickly as possible is the best solution for homelessness. So they’re dramatically ramping up funding for programs that follow that approach, and cutting support for traditional shelters.

Giving people homes doesn't solve the larger problems that lead to homelessness, like rising housing costs and underfunded support systems. Housing First may not be the "common sense solution" many had hoped.

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FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should the homeless be given free housing?
A festive crown for the winner
#HousingFirstWorks
#NoFreeHomes