Letter: Research shows effectiveness of housing first

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Reading that the city’s budget will significantly expand the personnel focused on homelessness made me reflect on how many years homelessness has been an issue in the U.S. [“Council Approves $217 Million Asheville Budget,” July 6, Xpress]. I thought back to the first national homelessness march in Washington, D.C., in 1989. The theme was affordable housing, and the mantra at that march was “Housing, Housing, Housing!” Thirty-three years have passed!

U.S. cities have tried all kinds of housing to address homelessness — emergency shelters, transitional housing, safe havens, wet and dry housing, housing first and permanent supportive housing. Local providers continue to try all of these, yet the city’s statistics show the population’s growth outpaces supply.

Of all the housing models, housing first, a version of permanent supportive housing, has the imprimatur of research demonstrating its effectiveness at ending homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are placed in a stable housing situation directly and provided with the services and supports to succeed. They do. Research additionally demonstrates that it is a money saver when you calculate the costs we otherwise are spending on police response, emergency services, jail time, ER visits, etc. We know so much more than we did in the 1980s and should be acting on it.

One piece of good news has been Homeward Bound’s renovation of the former Days Inn on Tunnel Road. When complete, it will supply 85 units of permanent supportive housing with services on-site. Such initiatives help to fill this critical need.

Let’s support and thank all of the homeless providers in our community. Let’s hope the city’s new commitment to personnel focused on homelessness will make a difference. Most importantly, let’s not forget that the 1989 mantra — Housing, Housing, Housing — is as relevant today as it was 33 years ago.

— Walt Leginski


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.