Once again Cynthia Griffith writing for Invisible People opened my eyes to something I had not considered. In her report she begins with a date – February 1st, 2021 and moves to the cost of what it will set in motion for taxpayers.
First the date….
Mark that date on your calendar as one to be remembered in reverence of the tens of millions of Americans who will stagger away from their rental properties with no place left to turn. If they are fortunate enough, they might leave with whatever belongings they are physically fit enough to carry.
The less fortunate will leave with nothing. Their lives will reside behind locked barricades. Their worldly possessions – the stack of birth certificates, the cabinet of prescription medication, the closet of diapers, bookbags and clothing, the laptops their children need to attend virtual school – everything will sit there behind a locked door. The formal piece of paper declaring their new state of homelessness will be all that is left to bear their names.
Of all the ways to wind up homeless, eviction is one of the leading and most brutal …
If something doesn’t happen soon, we will witness this predicament happen in unfathomable numbers. As of right now, February 1st is the final day of the eviction moratorium extension.
Then the cost…
According to the NLIHC and the Innovation for Justice Program, an incident of mass eviction would incur astronomical costs for the general population. In total, they estimate those costs to total somewhere between $62 billion and $129 billion. They have broken those costs down into five categories. The categories are as follows (she provides fuller details in her article):
1. Emergency Shelter – somewhere between $27 billion and $56 billion.
Bear in mind that those numbers reflect only a 90-day need for shelter. If that need inflates, so will the price tag.
2. Inpatient Medical Care
Housing instability is proven to bring about a multitude of mental, physical, and emotional traumas. The price tag for this alone will likely run about $29 billion.
3. Emergency Medical Care
In addition to possible lives lost, we are looking at a price that falls between $8 billion and $18 billion.
4. Foster Care
Sadly, children whose families get evicted are at an increased risk of winding up in the foster care system. This cost is estimated to fall between $8 billion and $17 billion.
5. Juvenile Delinquency
Being forced to endure the horrors of homelessness adversely affects youth, giving way to a rise in generational juvenile delinquency. Imprisonment will cost them their youth. It will cost you upwards of $9 billion.
There are some things, like a society’s overall health that you simply cannot put a price tag on.
This report attempted to quantify homelessness in order to show that creating a $100 billion rental assistance fund was in the best interest of taxpayers both morally and financially.
The latest COVID relief package includes $25 billion in rent relief, which is not nearly enough. The extended eviction moratorium is already running out of time. Please call or email your legislators and express your concern regarding financial aid to prevent mass evictions.
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Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.