You might look at Thursday's announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as good news and bad news for Idaho. First the good news. Between 2010 and 2013 Idaho saw a 24 percent drop in homelessness. That’s more than 560 fewer people living on Idaho’s streets. Nationally, homelessness decreased by 6 percent.
Lee Jones with HUD’s regional office in Seattle credits a gradually improving economy for the national drop. In Idaho he adds there was a significant increase in homeless families and vets getting shelter thanks to the work of several charitable organizations.
That brings us to the bad news. Next year Jones says, Idaho organizations that help homeless people will get 5 percent less money from the federal government because of spending cuts.
“It’ll be a very real challenge for them,” Jones says. "They’re very innovative, creative hard-working people and they’re generally able to find ways to cut corners and stretch a dollar, but a 5 percent cut is a real cut. It’s not just a penny here and a penny there. It’s talking real, serious money.”
That 5 percent cut represents about $200,000 less coming to Idaho homeless programs.
It comes from the federal sequester. That was the non-targeted spending cuts Congress put in place while it worked on a permanent spending plan. They were supposed to be temporary, but lawmakers have not yet reached a permanent agreement.
Jones says some Idaho groups will be able to maintain their level of service to homeless people with state and private money but others won’t.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio