Income Opportunity & Services

Programs designed to assist low-income people increase their income are critical to supporting housing stability.

Increasing Income for People Experiencing Homelessness

A housing crisis is often the result of a financial one. With incomes typically much lower than is needed to comfortably pay average rental costs, millions of people are financially vulnerable to homelessness and housing instability. A reduction in work hours, a lost job, an illness or an unexpected expense can spiral into an inability to pay the rent, an eviction, reliance on extended family for a place to stay, and, sometimes, entry into a homeless shelter.

Income support programs that can assist low-income people, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or unemployment compensation, help many people withstand economic crises.  Often, however, people experiencing homelessness find these programs to be inaccessible and the benefits offered may be insufficient to help them achieve stability.

Helping people experiencing homelessness increase and stabilize their incomes is a primary goal of homeless assistance programs. While some people exiting homelessness will do so with a permanent rent subsidy that can buffer them from the effects of income fluctuations, the majority must depend on income from employment or benefits to help them pay rent.

How Income Opportunity and Services Can End Homelessness

There are efforts to improve pathways to employment for low-skilled, entry level workers through investments in subsidized employment and programs funded under the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The availability of work supports for low-income households, such as child care and transportation assistance, can also have a big impact on whether or not a household can sustain employment.

There are also opportunities to improve income supports programs for low-income people. As an example, TANF assistance can be made more readily accessible to families experiencing a housing crisis that might help avert homelessness for some. Training local staff in the SOAR (Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Income Outreach, Access and Recovery) model can reduce the length of time eligible people with disabilities must wait before receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).