Another hot and humid Monday in Philadelphia! As I try to stay cool, drinking my iced coffee and reading the latest tweets and articles, I came across a rather depressing story on Philly.com. The article was about the hidden homeless in New Jersey, living in motel rooms that cost New Jersey $85 a night. One dad, who recently found a new job, lived in the motel with his 5 children. At $2550 per month you can’t help but wonder wouldn’t it have been cheaper to find an apartment for this family? This problem is not limited to just the homeless, we speak to many holders of structured settlements and annuities who end up living in motels because their situations change, be it a divorce, job loss or just a rough patch in their lives.
Homelessness and budget deficits are serious problems in this country. There are so many people who are unemployed or underemployed struggling to get by. Many states and charities are seeing an increase in people seeking assistance, yet their budgets have been severely cut. Times are tough for everyone and many people are doing less with more. So many bloggers and journalists have been writing about ways to stretch your dollar, how to budget as well as how to save. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case with government.
In a groundbreaking study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in March 2010, HUD discovered that it was more cost effective to help the homeless obtain apartments instead of housing them in temporary solutions. Housing experts suggest that the housing bust and job losses have swollen the ranks of the homeless. Many are families who don't have the same mental illness and substance abuse problems of the chronically homeless. Obviously there is a need to address this situation from a cost stand point but the nation as a whole need to address how these people got into this situation in the first place.
Job training and creation is a step in the right direction. But the government needs to get their spending in check and spend their money wisely. Throwing money at the situation isn’t necessarily the right idea, it’s just a band-aid. Making sound decisions that look at the whole picture including the future is the only way we can thrive and stop the bleeding.