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The cost of homelessness will spike if Congress adopts Trump’s 2018 budget proposal

This post was originally published here (Urban Institute Research)

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal would cut funding for housing, homelessness services, and critical safety net programs, but history shows that reducing spending only increases homelessness and drives costs up.

The Trump administration proposes cutting the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget by $7.4 billion, or nearly 15 percent from 2017. The budget reduces housing subsidies (such as public housing and vouchers) and homeless services for families, veterans, people with disabilities, and seniors. It also eliminates programs like Community Development Block Grants and the National Housing Trust Fund. These and sweeping cuts to safety net programs—Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—will cause hardship for many families and lead to significant increases in evictions and homelessness.

This increase in evictions and homelessness won’t come cheap. When people experience a housing crisis, they often turn to shelters for a place to sleep. When shelters are full, some communities rent motel rooms to supplement. Washington, DC, for example, has housed hundreds of families in a former hospital and makeshift shelter, and when that fills, the city puts families up in cheap motel rooms. There is nothing cheap about those motel rooms, and as DC knows well, there is nothing easy about siting, building, and managing emergency homeless shelters.

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Author: Mary K. Cunningham

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