Housing News Roundup: September 6, 2016
Housing Program Addresses Chronically Homeless “Super-Utilizers”
Attempting to reduce the number of hospital visits by chronically homeless “super-utilizers,” the Better Health Through Housing (BHH) pilot program provides subsidized housing and social services to 25 unstably housed people. BHH, which is run by the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System in Chicago, addresses the segment of the homeless population who are not well served by the health care system because of “complex physical, behavioral, and social needs,” causing them to frequently visit emergency rooms and be admitted for inpatient services. By providing housing as an early intervention, this program hopes to reduce the need for medical services among its participants, a result observed elsewhere in the country. “Without a home base where you can get a good night’s sleep, stay out of the weather, keep your food, and prepare your meals, how are you supposed to stay healthy?” says Avijit Ghosh, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital.
Source: Chicago Tribune
California Ballot Initiatives for Housing and Homeless Services
Voters in the Bay Area will decide in November if they will increase funding for the creation of affordable housing and additional homelessness services. In San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties, ballot initiatives aim to increase local funding dedicated to reducing homelessness by $3 billion over five years. Voters in San Francisco will decide on an initiative that could increase the sales tax by .75 percentage points, a measure that would generate an additional $50 million for homeless services. While these initiatives appear to have little opposition, some contend that the funding sources are regressive, placing the majority of the additional tax burden on the poor. While homelessness has not increased in San Francisco, the problem is becoming more visible because of redevelopment. Previously hidden tent camps are currently “rubbing up against people who aren’t used to them,” spurring action. Jennifer Loving of Destination: Home claimed that if these measures produce enough “housing, readily available, it would be a game changer.”
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Oregon’s Economic Boom Leaves Some Residents Further Behind
Despite a thriving state economy, many residents in Oregon are getting left behind. The state’s economy has shifted from manufacturing to highly skilled jobs, leaving many in the middle class unemployed. During the 1990s, 1 in 5 working-age men in Oregon worked in manufacturing. That ratio is currently 1 in 10. This decline is mirrored by the number of women who work in administrative positions. Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis notes, “We know the lack of middle-wage jobs means some rungs of the [economic] ladder are missing.” These economic disparities between the upper and middle classes leave many struggling to remain housed. After living in the same unit in Portland for 14 years, Arlene Hill, who worked in the service industry, was evicted so the landlords could raise the rent and increase their revenue from the rental unit. This left her unstably housed as rising home prices and low vacancy rates of rental units created, what John Tapagna of ECONorthwest terms, “a squeeze.” Additionally, institutional investors who try to take advantage of this economic boom raise real estate prices beyond the reach of the middle class. Portland’s new economy benefits “those with well-paying jobs and…homeowners who locked in their housing costs before the surge in the cost of housing,” causing middle-class renters to struggle while the rising economic tide benefits others.
Source: The Oregonian
Housing-School Partnership Extended in Tacoma, Washington
A partnership between the schools and housing authority in Tacoma, Washington, strives to improve education for students at McCarver Elementary School, a school located in a high-poverty neighborhood. The joint effort, which provides housing assistance, job training, and social services to a subset of McCarver families, has been extended for another five years. By decreasing “the frequent moves that can hurt the academic achievement of low-income kids,” this program has increased students’ performance in reading and the earned income of participating families. Additionally, the partnership runs a Head Start preschool, offers a children’s savings account program for college, and gives extra books from the school district to children in rental assistance units.
Source: The News Tribune