Here's How to End Homelessness While Saving Taxpayer Dollars

Categories: Videos, HUD

Handout. Waste. Entitlement. These are terms you're likely to hear when HUD enters the conversation.

You've heard it all before, but what you may not know is that everyone who says this is missing one important fact: HUD subsidized housing actually saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

“When you add up all of the costs that are incurred by allowing someone to become homeless and you compare that to the cost of building a decent affordable housing unit, it’s a better idea to build affordable housing,” said James Seagle, president of Rogerson Communities, which provides affordable housing and supportive services to elderly and low-income individuals in Massachusetts.

In fiscal 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development provided more than 1.2 million families with an average monthly housing voucher of $696, which totals less than $8,400 a year per family. By comparison, a single homeless person costs taxpayers $40,000 or more every year in law enforcement, medical care, shelter, and related expenses.

According to HUD, about 89% of households receiving Section 8 vouchers earn less than $20,000 a year for a family of four. Nearly all of the households receiving federal rental assistance are made up of children, adults with disabilities, or senior citizens. 

Without the federal government’s financial assistance, many of these families are forced into a life of homelessness. And as homelessness grows, so does the tab for taxpayers.

Sadly, many in Congress continue to promote deep cuts to the HUD housing program. Due to Congress' disastrous sequestration policy, HUD had to eliminate housing vouchers for 100,000 low-income families in 2013. About two-thirds of those vouchers have yet to be restored, leaving those families without the financial means to keep a roof over their heads.

Predictably, this failure to adequately fund HUD’s housing program ended up costing taxpayers more in the long run.

As of January 2014, there were more than 578,000 homeless people in the United States. About 15 percent are chronically homeless, meaning they have endured long-term or repeated bouts of homelessness and suffer from a mental or physical disability. Nearly 50,000 homeless people in the U.S. are veterans.

AFGE is proud to represent thousands of dedicated public servants at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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