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The affordable housing crisis hits home


By Sunny Jones

By Sunny Jones

Not having stability in housing impacts every aspect of a person’s life: employment, health (mental and physical), education, safety and interpersonal relationships

Click here to read the entire February 2019 newsletter

And it contributes to a host of problems

The United States finds itself in the midst of an affordable housing crisis:

  • “America’s housing affordability crisis is only getting worse,” Forbes reports, noting that by next year, it’s expected less than half of all homes will be within reach of the typical family.
  • “Governors grapple with housing woes felt throughout nation,” says CBS MarketWatch, as talk emerges from the recent National Governors Association annual winter meeting that no state is being spared the pain.

Across the country, rent increases far outpace living wages. The result is 8 million low-income families spend half of their income on rent, over-extending and exposing themselves to the risk of homelessness.

In Missouri, over 6,000 individuals are homeless. Within this group are the chronically homeless. Chronically homeless are individuals or families defined as being homeless 12 months out of the last three years. Not having stability for 12 months out of a three-year period impacts every aspect of a person’s life – employment, health (mental and physical), education, safety and interpersonal relationships.

For the 2017 Point in Time Count (an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness, including both sheltered and unsheltered populations), 237 chronically homeless individuals were identified. To compound the difficulties of homelessness, these individuals often suffer from complex and long-term health conditions, such as mental illness and physical disabilities. In fact, those with disabilities now account for over 40 percent of the homeless people in America.
Being chronically homeless and suffering from a diagnosed disability can quickly spiral to despair.

We have seen some turn to self-medication to relieve their physical or mental anguish. Others exude behavior that’s hard to understand, as they attempt to deal with past decisions that now evoke shame or regret. These are the types of clients Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph serves daily. By striving to provide permanent housing to these marginalized individuals, we bring much needed stability to their lives and to the community. In 2018, we provided stable permanent housing for 101 heads of households, impacting 235 total family members.

The struggle for stability typically includes two parts:

  1. Finding a safe and stable home with a landlord that is willing to give the individual/family a chance at establishing roots in the community.
  2. Working with a professional case manager to remove additional barriers prohibiting long-term success and hope for a better future.

But the work of regaining stability runs much deeper. Accompanying a safe and stable home must also be ongoing professional case management if you are to change behaviors and impact the long-term success of an individual and family. Case management includes advocacy, benefit access, connections to appropriate external treatment teams, professional resources, employment services, life skills classes, and other wrap-around services. When these two are combined – a stable home and ongoing professional case management – success can be realized. Of those in the Catholic Charities Permanent Housing Program who received uninterrupted case management services over the course of a year, 99 percent remained in permanent housing! In addition, 92 percent achieved a self-determined goal often related to their self-sufficiency, such as increasing their income or maintaining mental and physical health.

If you are a landlord interested in learning more about how you can become a part of the stability team for an individual or family, contact Stacey Gilbert at 816.259-5422 or sgilbert@ccharities.com

If you or someone you know is a chronically homeless individual with a diagnosed disability and need housing services, also contact Stacey Gilbert.

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