Noting that homelessness in the U.S. has increased by more than 20% in the last five years, a new federal report is calling for a holistic approach to reducing that percentage.
The report, Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness, focuses on a variety of factors to reduce homelessness, including the promotion of jobs and access to mental health, a focus on racial disparities, and trauma care.
As prepared by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the report notes that “despite funding increases, homelessness has gone up in most sub-group populations and within many regions of the country.”
While also calling for what it describes as “population specific programing,” as well as the “promotion of alternatives to criminalizing people,” the report particularly focuses on the rising cost of construction as a homelessness challenge, arguing that “Regulatory demands placed on developers inflate construction costs.”
Pointing to what it calls “excessive building fees” at both the county and city level, the report additionally contends that “zoning restrictions limit where and how many housing units may be built.”
“Federal, state, and local government programs should increase flexibility, encourage innovation, and focus on outcomes,” the report recommends. “Barriers should be removed for different and innovative approaches tailored to unique populations and communities.”
The Council on Homelessness report follows up on an earlier study released in February by the White House pointing to other such factors as rent controls, energy efficiency mandates, parking requirements, and maximum-density allowances as barriers to new housing construction.
By Garry Boulard
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