The State of Things
The National Alliance to End Homelessness published a report last year detailing a few developments regarding homelessness in the United States. Among them are:
- 578,424 individuals were considered homeless across the country in 2014. 84,291 were chronically homeless individuals, while 49,933 were veterans and 45,205 were unaccompanied children and youth.
- Despite the overall increase in employment (around 8.4 percent) the poverty rate and number of people in poverty stayed relatively steady between 2012 and 2014
- During that time, 26 states saw an increase in poverty, while 25 saw a decrease
Despite recent changes made to official homelessness definitions in an effort to better diagnose and treat homelessness in American urban centers, the problem has not been alleviated in the slightest. Poverty rates and homeless populations have steadily remained the same for years, without much real attention on the part of lawmakers and presidential candidates.
Democratic Representative from California Maxine Waters recently introduced the Ending Homelessness Act of 2016, designed as a $13.27 billion relief bill allocated over the next five years. The bill includes the following:
- Funding for approximately 85,000 new permanent supportive housing units for chronically homeless individuals and families in urban centers
- An additional 295,000 to 300,000 Housing Choice Voucher (HVC) units for homeless families and youth
- Funding used to ensure that extremely low-income rental units maintain low rental prices
The bill, if passed, would provide much-needed stimulus money for cities to fund their respective housing initiatives through federal programs. For instance, the City of Ithaca, which gets a decent amount of homelessness relief money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, would see a slice of this package. That’s something the city could always use more of.
As it stands in 2015 (we’re still waiting on the point-in-time measurements for 2016 to be released by city officials) 16 people are living unsheltered in Ithaca’s city limits. The 2015 survey found 60 people sleeping on the streets.