On March 11, 2011, The United States House of Representatives voted to cancel the $1 billion dollar initiative to help jobless homeowners with legal bank action and financial assistance. The program seeks to help those in tough economic situations remain housed and not to become homeless. Essentially, it provides prevention measures- something everyone needs from time to time. The federal funds are dispersed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to people working in the field to help people pay bills.
Unfortunately, the GOP voted to cancel this plan and it is now on its way to the United Sates Senate. Taxpayers are tired of ‘wasteful’ Washington spending, but how can we consider preventative measures wasteful? The excuse that cutting this initiative will ultimately save people money is false. In America, the average cost of supporting a homeless person living on the streets is roughly $40,000 a year. Why would we want to increase the amount of people struggling and potentially living on the streets?
A society is judged by how it treats those less fortunate, and this initiative was a great start to show that there is a caring community in America. The economic recession has turned many successful families into struggling families fighting to eat, pay bills and keep a roof over their heads.
In Pennsylvania, over 45,000 families remained housed because of this initiative. In Georgia, through Fresh Start, another federal financial assistance initiative, over 20,000 people remained in their homes because of the assistance they received. Whether it is a mortgage payment or a utility bill, small assistance makes a difference. What if those numbers did not exist as success stories, but rather, as homeless statistics?
Another problem is within the housing system itself. Affordable housing simply does not exist for everyone who needs it. Many of the programs that existed just a few decades ago to increase the supply of affordable housing and provided subsidies to those who could not afford housing have disappeared. This program was something that brought back a similar paradigm in the housing world but is now on the chopping block.
Eventually, spending money on housing assistance and preventative measures will have dissipated. There will be no solution to poverty if practical solutions continue being eliminated.