COMMUNITY-WIDE EFFORT CRUCIAL TO PREVENTING WAVE OF HOMELESSNESS
WAXAHACHIE – We are asking Ellis County commercial and residential landlords and tenants to come together and work through this difficult time.
Economists at Columbia University predict homelessness could increase 40 to 45 percent due to unemployment this year and reducing rent to keep neighbors and families housed may prove instrumental to preventing a wave of homelessness.
Not providing the rental relief and assistance residents need to avoid homelessness will create an even greater long-term impact on our community.
People experiencing homelessness are far more likely to frequent emergency services and with researchers at the University of Texas saying COVID-19 may now be spreading silently across rural counties, prioritizing housing may be critical to curbing a sudden surge in infection rates.
Forcing people out of their homes also makes social distancing difficult and increases the risk of infection for the entire community.
In light of the soaring cost of medical care and the current strain on some hospital resources, keeping people housed is not only moral and in the interest of public health - it is also the fiscally conservative path.
Marketplace recently profiled a program in which insurers and hospitals paid for housing and “wraparound” services – programs promoting comprehensive health and stability – for high-frequency patients with hospital bills totaling over $50,000 in one year.
The total cost per program participant ranged from $1,200 to $1,800 per month, which included a rent allowance maximum of $850 per month.
Housing these vulnerable individuals instead of discharging them to the street saved taxpayers at least $28,000 per participant per year.
Similarly, landlords keeping tenants housed could save taxpayers, including themselves, tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long term.
Adopting flexible policies addressing renters’ needs in the coming months – e.g. canceling or reducing rent, offering payment plans, waiving all fees, renting out vacancies by room rather than by unit, or letting tenants out of their leases without penalty – will help landlords and tenants alike weather the current economic downturn, save lives, and save taxpayer money.