Our Turn: End homelessness with better services, policies
As organizations working to end homelessness in New Hampshire, we appreciate the Monitor’s coverage of the latest count of the homeless and would like to take this opportunity to point out those state residents who were not included.
These are our neighbors who face the threat of homelessness – those whose income can’t keep up with the state’s high cost of housing and who pay more than half their income for housing alone.
For them – an estimated 35,000 households – any unexpected expense, such as a car repair or medical need, comes from the rent budget, increasing the family’s risk of homelessness.
The fact that on a single January day there were more than 2,200 homeless people living in New Hampshire is eye-opening, but the situation should not be viewed as hopeless.
As the decline in the homeless “point in time” count shows us, we have the power to reduce these numbers by prioritizing public policies that bring people home.
First, we can support the organizations in our communities providing shelter and services. Second, we can prioritize public policies that support affordable housing for all.
Right now, Congress could help make housing more affordable for low-income families by capitalizing on the National Housing Trust Fund, increasing housing tax credits and restoring funds for rental assistance vouchers.
State leaders could budget for the state’s affordable housing fund, along with emergency shelters. We can end homelessness in New Hampshire through better policy and services. We’re on our way.
(Cathy Kuhn is the director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness, and Elissa Margolin is the director of Housing Action New Hampshire.)