The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting and exacerbating so many of the problems our community faces. Housing is no exception:
Besides providing direct services now, including shelter, financial assistance, and housing, Connections is looking to the future. Instead of accepting that those currently staying in hotels will move to the streets and that we will run out of Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing money as soon as the shelter-in-place order is lifted, we are looking for long-term solutions and starting to put them in place now, through advocacy and fundraising.
The following describes both the solutions we are looking for and the advocacy action we are taking.
Upcoming Housing Needs
We need to create an expanded, 24/7 comprehensive shelter system that provides intensive case management and accommodates both those who need immediate and/or short-term shelter and those who need longer term shelter and supports in order to secure stable housing. The shelter system needs more case managers to help with finding housing and moving people in, as well as more case managers to help people stay in their housing. It also needs to be able to accommodate residents safely during stay-at-home orders in the future.
2. More Rental Assistance Funding
More people than ever need help paying for their housing. While we need to build more affordable housing, the immediate need is to help people pay for the housing that exists. That means rental assistance, whether through voucher programs or other types of subsidies.
We need more funding and more flexible funding to:
Housing that currently exists needs to be used in a broader variety of ways than has historically been allowed. Municipalities need to allow flexible use of housing stock to accommodate people in need, and they need to incentivize property owners to make units available at deeply affordable rates.
Proposed Advocacy Response
In order to fulfill the needs described above, Joining Forces for Affordable Housing will be focusing its advocacy efforts on the following: