hiv-housing-employment-project News Articles Publications

Resources for Housing Vulnerable Populations in Tight Housing Markets

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Access to housing greatly affects health outcomes—yet affordable housing remains a pressing national problem in the U.S. The Housing, HIV, and Employment Project, based at the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (CISWH) at Boston University School of Social Work (BUSSW), has released a new issue brief that lists effective strategies for finding housing for vulnerable populations in tight housing markets.

“Housing affordability is a nationwide problem, but it is particularly acute in certain areas of the United States,” said Thomas Byrne, assistant professor at BUSSW and author of the brief. “Best practices on how to help vulnerable populations access safe, adequate, and stable housing in these high-cost markets are still emerging, and our hope is that this brief will contribute to that conversation.”

With more than 8 million low-income households spending more than half of their income on housing, and higher rents being consistently linked to higher rates of homelessness, many people in the U.S. are in a precarious position in regard to housing stability. In many cases, housing barriers extend beyond a simple lack of economic resources. Physical or mental health issues, substance use disorders, a history of justice system involvement, poor credit, and prior evictions may all complicate the process of locating safe, stable, and adequate housing in high cost areas. And, even in cases where individuals have access to a housing voucher or other subsidy, low rental vacancy rates may make it difficult to actually find a unit to rent.

State and local governments as well as front-line service agencies working in high-cost areas have developed a number of innovative approaches to help house homeless and precariously housed individuals. Useful for social workers, community health workers, and other staff working in health and social services, the brief provides data points, tips, and resources for finding housing.

Image credit: Edward Faulkner, Flickr.