Report: Stimulus Helped Nearly 300,000 Families Avoid Homelessness

Since it was passed in 2009, Republicans have derided the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which passed without a single House Republican vote. House Republicans called the stimulus a “sham“, nothing more a “a massive spending binge by the Democrat-controlled Congress.” Just this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who authored the radical House Republican budget — penned an op-ed, saying the Democrats’ response to the recession has been “woefully inadequate,” with the Recovery Act just one more example of the foolish belief that “government spending and greater government control over the economy can jump-start a recovery better than the private sector can.”

But a report released yesterday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development proves strategic government investments during an economic downturn have been anything but wasteful. According to the report, the Homelessness Prevention Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) — an initiative directly funded by the Recovery Act — helped 94 percent of program participants who were either homeless or on the verge of homelessness find a permanent housing destination:

Of persons exiting an HPRP program and whose destination at exit was known, 94 percent of HPRP program participants exited to a permanent housing situation, which is considered a successful housing outcome. Nearly 93 percent either rented or owned their own housing unit at exit. This is notable considering the very low income of persons assisted at both entry and exit—nearly 30 percent of participants entered with no monthly cash income and more than half entered with $750 a month or less— and the relatively brief term of assistance.

The HPRP was specifically designed for low-income families who have been taken the hardest blows from the recession, and since its implementation in 2009 it has helped a total of 284,000 families escape homelessness. Its relatively low investment costs ($1.3 billion over 3 years – equal to eleven days of Bush tax cuts), coupled with its high success rate led the report to conclude that the program was an overwhelming success, a crucial factor in “mitigating the impact of the economic recession and allowing families to remain housed or regain housing”.

If the Republicans had their way, highly successful government initiatives such as the Homelessness Prevention Rapid Re-housing Program would never have happened. The Recovery Act has also kept a total of 6 million Americans out of poverty and created 3.3 million jobs.

Jen Kalaidis