America’s Third Most Expensive City Has Lowest Homelessness Rate

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Homeless couple with a dog

Boston which is America’s third most expensive city to live in apparently solved its homelessness problems. The city has the lowest homelessness rate in the nation with just 600 people being chronically homeless. A federal report shows homelessness rate collapsed 35% since 2007.

The official report, which was released Thursday, shows the situation is improving nationwide as well. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that homelessness rates slipped 3 percent in 2015. Nevertheless, there are cities where the rate went up such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Seattle. In these urban areas, homelessness rates soared by up to 21 percent.

Federal official think that the overall decline may be due to permanent housing options for the homeless. Before these programs, homeless people had only temporary options. But temporary options cannot help them get back on their feet.

Boston’s Strategy

Boston has a long history of long-term housing programs for the homeless. Local authorities are confident that the programs could help solve the problem entirely. The Urban Institute explained that the progress is mainly due to a paradigm shift in how communities perceive homelessness.

In Boston, people who live on the streets can now find a home and assistance to preserve that home. The community also funds programs to help those with addiction and medical problems.

The strategy yielded better-than-expected results in Boston, but this is not the case with other cities of the nation. In addition, the latest report does not reflect the whole truth. It ignored people in unsecure housing or homeless people who stay with friends or family. The report also turns a blind eye to people who spend half their earnings on rent and who have a high risk of becoming homeless.

Experts also noted that some methods used in the latest report are flawed. So, the report predicts trends rather than reflects the reality, experts think. Nevertheless, researchers agree that the U.S. is moving in the right direction.

Permanent Housing a Long-Term Soulution

They think that the nation could fix the problem if it focused more on supportive housing, which means more than a roof over one’s head. Supportive housing includes affordable housing units paired with support services. The combination is the most effective in keeping homeless people out of prisons, emergency rooms and metal health institutions. The latter scenarios demand a lot of taxpayer money.

In the federal government’s view, a chronically homeless individual is someone who hasn’t had a roof over their head for at least a year. Also, people who have been homeless at least four times in the last three years fall into the category.

Boston strategy to move people from the streets to a temporary shelter and from there to permanent housing is one of the best. The city also has a strong network of shelters, programs to help those in need cope with utilities costs, and long-term housing solutions.

Temporary shelters are not a real solution, one expert note, because many homeless people would rather sleep on the streets for fear of robbery or other crimes in city shelters.

Image Source: Flickr

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