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Homelessness comes in many different forms. For some, an episode of homelessness is a once-in-a-lifetime event and can be ended by an increase in their income or access to affordable housing. Others experience episodic homelessness – they may experience homelessness sporadically throughout their lives, but tend not to be living on the streets or in shelters for long periods of time. These individuals and families may have a short stay in a homeless shelter, but are also likely to be “doubled up” – living with families and friends willing to offer a temporary home.
Other homeless individuals experience chronic long-term homelessness, which requires a more holistic response. Often, those experiencing chronic homelessness have physical disabilities or mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to stay employed or housed. Many rely on emergency rooms for healthcare and are repeatedly incarcerated for minor offenses. They may also shuttle in and out of the shelter system, which offers temporary relief but cannot adequately address the root causes of their homelessness.
Affordable housing provides a solid foundation for a strong community. Residents who live in a home that is affordable have funds to purchase food, provide healthcare, and satisfy other living needs. Residents of affordable homes also have the economic means to purchase goods and services in their communities. Affordable housing helps to create economic stability.
The ability to afford a residence – to not have to spend more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing so that enough is left for other necessities – is undeniably important. But an affordable house or apartment must also be linked to good schools, adequate community services, convenient transportation, access to affordable high-quality food and other necessities. The Partnership for Strong Communities has worked hard to focus the attention of policymakers on the creation of not just affordable homes but also vibrant neighborhoods and communities.
For housing assistance or services, please contact the United Way's InfoLine by dialing 2-1-1.