Assistance Barriers for the Homeless

Published By: Shafiqul Bhuiya

Share Post:

Homelessness can feel like a hopeless situation at times, with no way out. However, there is assistance out there for individuals to help their situation. From homeless shelters to government subsidized housing, there is much out there to help individuals experiencing homelessness. Despite the different avenues of assistance, there are also many barriers. These barriers make it exponentially difficult to attain the assistance, which decreases the overall effectiveness of the programs.

One of the first, and most common types of assistance for the homeless community come in the form of shelters. Shelters are a very important, even life-saving, form of assistance for the homeless community. They shelter the homeless community from dangers such as extreme temperature changes. While the benefits of the shelters are obvious, what is not as apparent are the barriers to accessing the shelters. For example, a shelter space is not guaranteed by many shelters. Many cities may have a limited supply of beds available for individuals seeking shelter, thus resulting in exacerbated wait times for limited resources. This causes individuals seeking shelter to transport all of their belongings and wait in line for a shelter space that may not be guaranteed.

Moreover, there are many well-intended rules in place for certain shelters that make them not suitable for a bulk of the homeless population. For example, many shelters do not allow pets. This makes it difficult for those who cannot imagine separating from their companion to find shelter. Additionally, many shelters also have a curfew in place. This rule is beneficial in monitoring who can exit and enter the shelter, as well as promote safety. However, this rule places those working the night shift in quite the predicament. They are forced to choose between an income or a shelter for the night.

In addition to shelters, there are many government projects that have been created to address the needs of individuals who are homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless. One of the most important projects include the housing choice voucher program. It is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The housing choice voucher program assists very low income families, the elderly, and the disabled find and secure affordable housing. They do this by paying a portion of the rent for very low income families. The federal housing voucher program supplements rent payments for 1.7 million low-income families and individuals, making it the nation’s largest housing assistance program. The families are tasked with finding suitable housing where the owner agrees to lease under the program.

The housing choice voucher program is a critical type of assistance that can help those facing homelessness. Even though it has major benefits, there are also barriers that reduce its accessibility. For example, the demand for this type of assistance far out weight the limited resources of the HUD. This causes long wait times that can go on for months and even years, with an average wait time of 2.5 years. There are also instances where agencies close the waiting list all together due to the demand. Additionally, for individuals who are lucky enough to obtain a housing voucher, there may be difficulties locating a landlord who is willing to accept a lease under the program. Even though the housing voucher program guarantees funds, there may be a delay in funds due to the extensive hurdles landlords and tenants must go through. Between inspections, mandatory repairs, and administrative delays, the time from showing a property to a possible tenant and actually renting, may be too long for landlords to be comfortable with.

The assistance that is available to the homeless community is critical for many individuals. However, some of the most critical types of assistance come with intractable barriers. From shelters with inadequate number of beds, to federally funded programs with years long wait lists, the assistance that is out there is critical, but must be improved. Some recommendations include diversion services for shelters. With diversion, shelters try to divert individuals from seeking shelters in the first place by helping them meet basic necessities via subsidies as well as other resources to limit the amount of individuals seeking shelter, therefore increasing shelter capacity. Furthermore, the housing choice voucher program’s reach can be broadened via increased funding to allow more people to come off of the wait list and increase the amount of individuals helped. With continued support, the reach of the shelters and the housing voucher program can be broadened and barriers diminished to serve as many individuals as possible.

About the author
Shafiqul Bhuiya
Shafiqul Bhuiya is a Bangladeshi-American from Bronx, New York. He has graduated with a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and aspires to become a Physician Assistant. He is currently working as a Molecular Technologist in Infectious Disease testing. Shafiqul enjoys exercising, playing video games, and volunteering with Project Downtown Orlando during his free time. He believes in the power of proper healthcare and the hope it can bring to people in need.

Stay Connected

More Updates