The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released their 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) that’s sent to Congress. The most striking thing about the report is how much it seems to take credit for the Obama (and Bush) eras while downplaying the Trump administration’s failings. While HUD crows about homelessness decreasing by 13.2 percent since 2010, overall homelessness has increased in both 2017 and 2018, as has the number of unsheltered homeless (living on the street versus in a shelter). I’d hazard a guess that the concerted decrease in sheltered homeless beginning in 2016 is the result of Obama-era facilities coming online to serve the homeless.

HUD blames the increases on various natural disasters, but fails to explain the 2015-2016 drop in sheltered homeless. Long-term homeless increased by 2.2 percent in the past year, but again are down 16.4 percent compared to 2010.

Just this morning it was reported that after leaving food assistance programs alone in the recently passed farm bill, Trump is using regulatory rulemaking to attempt to trim food stamp programs. This is happening because the House and Senate opposed the measures. But not all opposed, House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, was the primary champion for tighter SNAP work requirements and praised the proposed rule change.

Under Trump’s rules, the work requirement would be increased from 18-49 to 18-59 years old. States would lose the ability to bank unused funds for future use and waive work requirements in cities or counties during times of high unemployment (which Trump wants to set at seven percent).

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “We would much rather have Congress enact these important reforms for the SNAP program. However, these regulatory changes by the USDA will save hardworking taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years and give President Trump comfort enough to support a farm bill he might otherwise have opposed.” That farm bill seeks to mitigate farmers’ hardships created by Trump’s various trade wars.

Clearly this will have a negative impact on national and Texas homelessness in the coming years.

On the upside, veteran homelessness has declined under Trump due to HUD and VA programs designed to target the group. Overall, veteran homelessness was down 5.4 percent since January 2017 with the female number down 10 percent.  However, since 2010, veteran homelessness is down 49 percent.

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Pennsylvania details just how expensive being homeless is for taxpayers

As part of a discussion about affordable housing, I wrote that poverty wasn’t aspirational. Like most things in life there are both simple and complex explanations.  In the US, a lot of poverty is explained by a systemic game of three-card Monty whereby minorities are kept at arm’s length from money through education and opportunity inequality.  Of course minorities are not alone in poverty, but they are disproportionately represented. But there are untold other reasons for poverty from the top-of-mind mental illness and substance abuse to more nuanced problems of isolation and hopelessness.

Just as poverty isn’t aspirational, poverty isn’t one thing.  Like most things in this world, poverty is a continuum ranging from homeless destitution to working 80-hour weeks and still living unsafe and hungry.

Why should a real estate blog care about affordable housing and poverty? Because poverty is the scourge of neighborhoods, not poor people.  Because I wrote about some areas in southern Dallas that contain wonderful housing stock and increasingly vibrant neighborhoods that many won’t consider.  Because Dallas was just presented with a Market Value Analysis to help them identify and spend appropriately on affordable housing.

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