How to save millions of Americans from losing their homes

Author: Leigh Lynes

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed tens of millions of Americans to the brink of eviction, revealing a gaping hole in our social safety net. While forced moves exact high tolls, many are cheap to prevent; renters regularly owe only a few hundred dollars when facing eviction. But once people become homeless, the cost to taxpayers can amount to tens of thousands of dollars per person per year. Even before the pandemic, some cities began offering emergency programs to prevent homelessness by providing short-term assistance that can be applied to back rent, utilities, and other qualifying renters' expenses. A LEO evaluation of one such program, Chicago's Homelessness Prevention Call Center, found the intervention reduced the likelihood of homeless shelter use by 76%. 

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