Ten Facts about Being Homeless in USA – commondreams.org

Ten Facts about Being Homeless in USA

by: Bill Quigley

Three True Stories

Renee Delisle was one of over 3500 homeless people in Santa Cruz when she found out she was pregnant.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported she was turned away from a shelter because they did not have space for her.  While other homeless people slept in cars or under culverts, Renee ended up living in an abandoned elevator shaft until her water broke.

Jerome Murdough, 56, a homeless former Marine, was arrested for trespass in New York because he was found sleeping in a public housing stairwell on a cold night.  The New York Times reported that one week later, Jerome died of hypothermia in a jail cell heated to over 100 degrees.

Paula Corb and her two daughters lost their home and have lived in their minivan for four years.  They did laundry in a church annex, went to the bathroom at gas stations, and did their studies under street lamps, according to America Tonight.

Fact One.  Over half a million people are homeless

On any given night, there are over 600,000 homeless people in the US according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Most people are either spending the night in homeless shelters or in some sort of short term transitional housing.  Slightly more than a third are living in cars, under bridges or in some other way living unsheltered.

Fact Two.  One quarter of homeless people are children

HUD reports that on any given night over 138,000 of the homeless in the US are children under the age of 18. Thousands of these homeless children are unaccompanied according to HUD.  Another federal program, No Child Left Behind, defines homeless children more broadly and includes not just those living in shelters or transitional housing but also those who are sharing the housing of other persons due to economic hardship, living in cars, parks, bus or train stations, or awaiting foster care placement.  Under this definition, the National Center for Homeless Education reported in September 2014 that local school districts reported there are over one million homeless children in public schools.

Fact Three.  Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless

Over 57,000 veterans are homeless each night.  Sixty percent of them were in shelters, the rest unsheltered.  Nearly 5000 are female.

Fact Four.  Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in women

More than 90% of homeless women are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse and escaping that abuse is a leading cause of their homelessness.

Fact Five. Many people are homeless because they cannot afford rent

The lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.  HUD has seen its budget slashed by over 50% in recent decades resulting in the loss of 10,000 units of subsidized low income housing each and every year.

Fact Six.  There are fewer places for poor people to rent than before

One eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost since 2001.  The US needs at least 7 million more affordable apartments for low income families and as a result millions of families spend more than half their monthly income on rent.

Fact Seven.  In the last few years millions have lost their homes

Over five million homes have been foreclosed on since 2008, one out of every ten homes with a mortgage.  This has caused even more people to search for affordable rental property.

Fact Eight.  The Government does not help as much as you think

There is enough public rental assistance to help about one out of every four extremely low income households.  Those who do not receive help are on multi-year waiting lists.  For example, Charlotte just opened up their applications for public housing assistance for the first time in 14 years and over 10,000 people applied.

Fact Nine.  One in five homeless people suffer from untreated severe mental illness

While about 6% of the general population suffers from severe mental illness, 20 to 25% of the homeless suffer from severe mental illness according to government studies.  Half of this population self-medicate and are at further risk of addiction and poor physical health.  A University of Pennsylvania study tracking nearly 5000 homeless people for two years discovered that investing in comprehensive health support and treatment of physical and mental illnesses is less costly than incarceration, shelter and hospital services for the untreated homeless.

Fact Ten.  Cities are increasingly making homelessness a crime

A 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found: 24% make it a city-wide crime to beg in public; 33% make it illegal to stand around or loiter anyplace in the city; 18% make it a crime to sleep anywhere in public; 43% make it illegal to sleep in your car; and 53% make it illegal to sit or lay down in particular public places.   And the number of cities criminalizing homelessness is steadily increasing.

For more information look to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the National Center for Homeless Education and the National Coalition on the Homeless.

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6 Problems Landlords Face Renting to Section 8 Tenants – thebalance.com

6 Problems Landlords Face Renting to Section 8 Tenants

by: Erin Eberlin

There are certain unique challenges a landlord could face when renting to a tenant with a Section 8 voucher.These problems are deal breakers for some landlords, while other landlords feel the advantages of renting to a Section 8 tenant far outweigh the disadvantages. Here are six negatives for you to consider.

6 Potential Problems Section 8 Tenants Create: 

1. Frequent Section 8 Property Inspections

2. Do Not Receive Rent Until After Tenant Moves In

3. Section 8 Does Not Pay Security Deposits

4. Wear and Tear Concerns/Possible Property Damage

5. Non-Section 8 Tenants May Not Want to Live in Building

6. Maximum Amount Section 8 Will Pay

1. Frequent Section 8 Inspections

One major issue many landlords have with the Section 8 program is how often they inspect your rental property. These inspections are performed by your local Public Housing Authority. A Section 8 inspector will come to your property once a year to carry out the inspection. Even if there has been no tenant turnover, this inspection has to be done..

The inspector is making sure your unit meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. There are 13 areas the inspector will look at to determine if the unit meets HUD’s safety and health standards. These areas include sanitary system, lead-based paint, water supply, electrical and smoke detectors.

 Each of the 13 areas must meet certain requirements. For example, the “sanitary facility” must be located in a private area of the home and must only be for the use of the occupants of the home.

It is not uncommon to fail a Section 8 inspection. An example of a hazard that could cause you to fail a Section 8 inspection would be a hot water leak in the bathroom.

 This leak could cause potential burns to the tenant.

If you do fail the inspection, you will be given a list of items that need to be fixed. Once you fix all items on the list, you can schedule a re-inspection with the Section 8 office. They will once again send the inspector to determine if all issues have been fixed.

2. Receive Rent After Tenant Move In

Another problem with Section 8 is when you will receive your first rental payment. Typically, you will not be paid by the Section 8 office until after the tenant moves into the property. Due to administrative backups, there have been cases where landlords have had to wait as many as three or four months to receive payment from Section 8. Once you receive the first payment, however, you should expect consistent payment each month.

The delay in payment is something to keep in mind when considering renting to Section 8 tenants. If you do not have the financial ability to be able to wait a couple of months to receive rent, then Section 8 may not be the right choice for you.

3. Section 8 Does Not Pay Security Deposits

Section 8 provides housing vouchers that pay the tenant’s monthly rent. These vouchers do not include an amount for the security deposit.

 If a landlord wishes to collect a security deposit, he or she has to get this deposit directly from the tenant. This could be an issue as the tenant has already shown to have income problems by being approved for a Section 8 voucher in the first place.

If they are not able to pay on their own, Section 8 tenants are often able to appeal to other agencies that will provide them with the money for the security deposit. As with any other tenant, you should never allow a Section 8 tenant to move in without first collecting a security deposit from them. The maximum amount you can collect is determined by your state security deposit limit.

4. Wear and Tear Concerns/Property Damage

Another disadvantage of renting to a Section 8 tenant is the belief that Section 8 tenants are very destructive. There have been horror stories about floors being destroyed, cabinets being pulled off the walls, toilets being cracked, garbage and filth everywhere and many more people living in the unit than are listed on the lease. Certainly, this can happen. However, these problems can happen with any tenant you rent to.

There are good Section 8 tenants and there are bad Section 8 tenants. This is why it is so important to screen all tenants, including Section 8 tenants, properly.

5. May Discourage Non-Section 8 Tenants From Living in the Building

Tenants who do not collect rental assistance may be turned off by the fact that you allow Section 8 tenants in your property. They may believe that you are a “slumlord,” that the property will be dirty or that the tenants will be disrespectful and noisy.

In these situations, the only thing you can do is make sure you place quality tenants in your property and that you keep up with property maintenance. If non-Section 8 tenants see that your property is quiet and in pristine condition, they may change their beliefs about Section 8.

6. Maximum Amount Section 8 Will Pay

The final disadvantage of renting to Section 8 tenants is that there is a maximum amount that Section 8 will pay. Each year, HUD puts together a list of Fair Market Rents for over 2,500 areas of the country. The amount that you will receive from Section 8 will be calculated using the Fair Market Rent for your area for the number of bedrooms you are renting out, such as a one bedroom or a two bedroom.

The amount of the housing voucher will be between 90 percent and 110 percent of the Fair Market Rent. Depending on the condition of your property and the Fair Market Rent HUD has calculated for your area, you may be able to rent your property for a higher amount to a non-Section 8 tenant.

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