Studies Show ‘Misguided’ Government Policies Worsen US Homelessness Issue

Over the past ten years, homelessness in the United States has rapidly increased and is now at critical levels in several major cities. Additionally, it is currently one of the most important topics for voters in many areas.

Numbers Higher Than We Thought

The number of homeless persons nationwide is reaching 1.2 million. This is much more than the half-million statistic frequently quoted by news organizations, based on a recent study by the Discovery Institute.

The research claims despite large increases in government welfare expenditures, homelessness was already on the rise prior to COVID-19.

According to a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and well-known authority on homelessness Robert Marbut Jr., the federal government should first comprehend the root causes of homelessness in order to successfully tackle the issue.

Marbut served as the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ executive director from 2019 to 2021.

As according to Marbut, the “Homes First” policy, which gives homeless people unrestricted access to government-subsidized housing, is the root of the homelessness issue.

For the past 20 years, the government’s primary strategy to combat homelessness has been this program. Housing First proponents contend that providing all homeless individuals with housing immediately and no restrictions is the most effective way to address the issue.

The homelessness issue allegedly got worse in 2013 after the Obama administration implemented Housing First as a one-size-fits-all remedy.

Former President Obama promised to abolish veteran homelessness by 2015, chronic homelessness by 2017, and family homelessness by 2020 as part of his strategic plan to address the issue.

Outcome is Devastating

Marbut claims the outcomes have been devastating. According to Marbut, the “Housing First” strategy has effectively become a “housing only” option.

As a result of the policy, there are now no longer any mandates for homeless people to engage in supportive programs and therapies. Federal money encompassing services for the treatment of mental illness and addiction issues has also been cut.

Based on the research, over the five years prior to the start of COVID-19, the amount of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness climbed by over than 20%, even as the quantity of housing subsidies rose by over 40%.

The report deliberately omits any post-COVID data to show the issue predated the pandemic.

The research also claims by eliminating those residing in quick rehousing and stable supportive housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “artificially lowers” the number of individuals who are homeless.

Those who think the absence of affordable homes is the primary cause of homelessness criticized Marbut in recent times for rejecting Housing First. They contend the problem is much larger than mental health difficulties.

“The security of a house will help homeless people flourish in treatment, jobs, education, and health,” according to advocates of “a flexible approach.”

Nevertheless, according to a Manhattan Institute research, Housing First did a terrible job of managing significant mental illness and drug dependency, as well as helping the homeless obtain employment and combat social isolation.

This article appeared in Conservative Cardinal and has been published here with permission.