2017 Symposium Industry Report: Pay for Success

The Importance of Housing

“Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

—OLIVER W. HOLMES, SR.

Like food and water, shelter is a fundamental and necessary part of existence. Article 25 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights rec- ognizes housing as a component of every human’s right to an adequate standard of living. Beyond the physical importance of shelter, homes occupy a psycholog- ical and ideological significance that is constant and central across cultures and history. The place we call our home is a part of who we are; without such a place, or with our homes under siege by social and economic forces beyond our control, we struggle to achieve health and happiness in our daily lives. Given the fundamental centrality of our homes, it comes as little sur- prise that housing affects many aspects of our lives, such as health, education, and economic opportunity. In turn, these individual effects coalesce into larger societal trends. When Americans are denied access to affordable housing, the social and economic burden incurred by governments in addressing these effects through subsidies and social services, as well as the loss of benefits of having a strong, healthy, and happy nation, often outweighs the preventive costs of ensur- ing every American access to affordable housing. Affordable Housing and Homelessness The hardest-hit in the fight for affordable housing are those who cannot afford a house at all; burdened by unemployment, rising housing costs, and personal difficulties that make stable housing inaccessible. Hundreds of thousands of Americans live on the fringes of our communities and in the shadows of our streets. Despite recent improvements in homelessness rates across the nation due to targeted federal aid and permanent supportive housing initiatives, home- lessness remains a key problem, especially among veterans and the mentally ill. Over 350,000 people experience homelessness as individuals, while there are over 216,000 homeless families. 13 The number of chronically homeless indi- viduals, defined as individuals who have gone without shelter of their own for over a year, hovers at around 84,000, with over 60% of these individuals living on the street. Though this number has decreased by 21% since 2010, homeless- ness remains such a geographically widespread problem that it affects all of our communities.

14 Pay for Success & Affordable Housing | Stefano Rumi

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