President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package is currently being debated and revised on Capitol Hill. The projected $827 billion package is a wide-ranging plan that offers some financial assistance to the nation’s homeless. Although a final bill is still a little ways off, one version of the package included $1.5 billion to help alleviate homelessness. That’s double the amount of the current annual federal funding for emergency shelters. The original bill also included $200 million to help people who are behind on mortgage or rent payments.
Undoubtedly, the provisions in the stimulus package will help many Americans. Many of us are only one or two paychecks away from homelessness. Just think about your own situation. What would happen to you and your family if you lost your income today? How long could you maintain your home and lifestyle without a regular paycheck? Would you have somewhere to go temporarily if you couldn’t pay your mortgage? These are tough questions that thousands of families have to think about as a result of our weak economy.
The current economy is triggering a “domino effect.” Unemployment is causing people to lose their homes. Families who turn to the rental market as an option are seeing sharp rises in rents because of an increased demand. Those who become homeless are finding that homeless assistance programs are getting less funding and therefore have to cut back. The need for food stamps is approaching an all-time high, yet rising food prices cause the financial assistance to run out much sooner.
The proposed economic stimulus plan needs to address all of these critical concerns. Hunger, homelessness and unemployment are on the rise across the nation. Congress should make sure that assistance is available for those who need it. That includes addressing the need for more affordable housing units for low-income families.
I sincerely hope the final stimulus plan will jump start our economy and provide hope for the future. We all need it.