NUMBER OF HOMELESS FAMILIES CLIMBING DUE TO RECESSION: Recovery Package Should Include New Housing Vouchers and Other Measures to Prevent Homelessness
by Barbara Sard
New data indicate that the number of homeless families with children has climbed in recent months and continues to mount. Although the recovery package that Congress will consider in coming weeks is expected to include measures to restore several million jobs, an unusually large number of people are still likely to fall into severe poverty and to be at risk of homelessness, due to the depth of the recession. As a result, it is important that the package include funding for effective homelessness prevention strategies. Such measures could be included for a cost equal to just one-half of one percent of the cost of the overall package.
Goldman Sachs projects that the unemployment rate will rise to 9 percent by the fourth quarter of 2009 and continue rising into 2010. If unemployment reaches 9 percent and the increase in poverty, relative to the increase in the unemployment rate, is within the range that occurred in the last three recessions, the number of poor Americans will rise by 7.5 – 10.3 million. Moreover, the number of people in “deep poverty”–with incomes below half of the poverty line–will rise by an estimated 4.5–6.3 million if unemployment reaches 9 percent. This would represent an increase of about 900,000–1.1 million families with children that fall into deep poverty and thus are at risk of housing instability and homelessness.