Idaho’s housing resources positively impact our community’s quality of life
Financial support to supplement housing though one-time infusions or sustained support can make a world of difference to Idahoans struggling to make ends meet, writes guest columnist Anna Guida.
One way to combat increasing rates of homelessness is to reduce the number of evictions and increase housing support services, writes guest columnist Anna Guida. (Getty Images)
Families and individuals are able to be healthier when they live in affordable homes, and mental health is no exception. However, more Idaho families are struggling to find affordable places to live due to rapidly increasing rental prices outpacing wage growth combined with a statewide shortage of affordable homes.
According to the Point-in-Time Count Report released by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, on any given day in 2020, 647 Idahoans in Ada County experienced homelessness, and three times that number of Idahoans experienced homelessness throughout the rest of the state. Further, one in four Idahoans experiencing homelessness in 2020 experienced homelessness for the first time. These trends demonstrate the need for housing support and services as more Idahoans are unable to afford a home.
One way to combat increasing rates of homelessness is to reduce the number of evictions and increase housing support services. This can be done through increased investments in the Housing Choice Voucher program and the national Housing Trust Fund. Vouchers help families by paying the difference between what a household can afford to pay for rent and the rent itself, while the national Housing Trust Fund promotes the development of affordable homes.
Financial support to supplement housing though one-time infusions or sustained support can make a world of difference to Idahoans struggling to make ends meet. Falling behind on a single month of rent can be detrimental to cost-burdened Idahoans.
According to Jesse Tree’s 2020 Annual Report, it costs $1,200 to support rental costs for a family that would have otherwise been at risk of experiencing homelessness. The positive impact that rental supports have on determining whether or not a person, or a family, will head down the path of an endured housing crisis shows the importance of continued and expanded funding for such resources.
Another way to combat homelessness is by rapidly rehousing unsheltered Idahoans and providing the support they need to remain housed. Housing First is a research-proven homelessness model that houses people experiencing homelessness, and is the most effective approach to ending homelessness for most individuals and families. Under the Housing First model, stable, affordable, and accessible housing is provided to people experiencing homelessness first, then voluntary support services are offered to help improve housing stability and well-being.
Once an individual is stably housed, supportive services such as mental health treatment, medical services, substance abuse treatment, and case management services can follow suit. Without stable housing, attaining mental, physical, and social wellness goals is much more difficult. Housing First models have not only shown positive housing outcomes for Idahoans who interact with support built on this philosophy, but it also allows these folks the bandwidth to pursue well-being in an expanded area of their lives.
Securing safe, stable housing solutions, whether temporary or long-term, opens up a space where Idahoans don’t just survive, but thrive. Access to a home allows the time and space for mental, physical, and social health to become the new top priority, positively impacting the individual and the greater Idaho community.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.