What to do about homeless RV dwellers: Seattle has a plan

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Courtesy Seattle Times

By Bob Difley
A group of researchers in the homeless-plagued city of Seattle in collaboration with the Seattle and King County Housing Authorities enacted a test program in an attempt to attack the seriousness of America’s homeless problem, reports Dylan Matthews for the Vox.

One of the researchers, economist Raj Chetty, says the program has “the largest effect I’ve ever seen in a social science intervention.”

Though not directed at what are commonly called “homeless RV dwellers,” with some modification the program could become a model for getting those living in derelict RVs (which create a blight on urban streets and in neighborhoods) into more permanent housing along with a helping step up to independence.

Matthews writes, “The way housing assistance normally works in major cities is that housing authorities have limited budgets that they use to distribute money for rent to a subset of needy families. (These are authorized by Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, and known as “Section 8 vouchers.”) The mystery for the researchers was that even after getting a subsidy, many families chose not to move to a better area that offered better opportunity. Why was that? And what could be done about it?”


After a year of utilizing a simple intervention, it looks like it has yielded big results. The experiment found that the additional support raised the share of families moving to high-opportunity neighborhoods from 14 percent to 54 percent. “This is the largest effect I’ve ever seen in a social science intervention,” Chetty said in an email.

The homeless problem will not go away as long as housing costs remain higher in urban areas than is affordable by the poor. A helping hand to get them off the streets and provide a means to a more productive future seems a worthy experiment.

Read the full article.

What modifications would make this type of program work for homeless RV dwellers? If you’ve got any ideas, let’s hear them.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The problem is people in government not being held accountable for misuse of the funds. business would only want what they could profit from. What you were refuring to is Company owned towns. Which was done before the age of progressivism. Does anyone here study American History?

  2. For those in RV’s and trailers, provide hook ups for water and electricity so they can live in them. Ave money it is cheaper to put them in a trailer park then housing.
    Start looking to put folks in Shipping container homes, more durable then traditional homes and cheaper. Help with job training, more government jobs and free training. If we are to be a government of the people and by the people for the people let’s start with our greatest resource, the people. Duh any one here or in government go to school? Yeah college degree and no common sense. Hey I quit school and got a GED and went to college for one semester. And I came up with a good idea. Change our zoning laws so we can have legal places for folks to live in trailers, RV’s, Yurts and other alterntives. Start investigating public offcials, hey maybe they are taking kick backs from developers and contractors.

    • Who’s going to pay for the water and electricity and where would you install those services? Obviously the derelict RV owners can’t. Taxpayers are not going to shoulder the extra burden to provide more social assistance than they do now. The homeless RV dweller, like all other homeless didn’t start out that way. In order to support oneself and/or a family, it is necessary to move to where the work is and affordable housing is more plentiful.

      • Thank you Bill. The voice of reason here. How did we get to a place as a country where we can’t seem to make a clear distinction between a hand up and a HAND OUT. Life is all about choices. Some get made for us and most others we make ourselves. What is with this bleeding heart doctrine that has spread around this country that problems, self-inflicted or not encountered by one individual become the responsibility of another individual to fix?

  3. The rent charged in large city’s exceed the income of the people needed to work in those city’s! This problem has been addressed in MANY WAYS at MUCH expense! There are problems with every approach attempted.
    I believe in the free market. I believe it should be up to large employers to build and maintain low cost housing for there employees. This was done in the past. It has drawbacks but it has proven better than “Government ” solutions!

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