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Homelessness in Maryland

Each year in Maryland, 50,000+ people experience homelessness. More than 10x that many are poor.


People typically experience homelessness because they can’t afford housing—which is often perpetuated by things like poor health. The connection between poverty, housing and health is close and direct.

Why don’t they…

Just get a Job?

Poor people work. 46% of poor people in the United States and 38% of poor people in Maryland work full- or part-time.

Maryland’s poor are deeply poor. More than 50% of poor Marylanders live in “deep poverty,” meaning their incomes are below 50% of the federal poverty level. Maryland prides itself on being one of the nation’s richest states. It also has one of the highest rates of deep poverty.

Economic policies increasingly benefit the rich. From 1993 to 2012, 68% of all income growth in the United States occurred within the richest 1%. Since then, the percentage of growth captured by the top 1% has increased—leading to even greater wealth inequality and poverty.

Employment odds are stacked against poor students. Poor students are twice as likely as non-poor students to repeat a grade, be expelled, get suspended or drop out of high school. The National Center on Family Homelessness estimates that the graduation rate of children experiencing homelessness is less than 25%. Of high school students experiencing homelessness, 11.4% are proficient in math and 14.6% are proficient in reading.

 

In 2005, for the first time, there was no jurisdiction in America where a full-time, minimum-wage worker could afford a one-room apartment.

Just get a cheap apartment?

Cheap market-rate housing doesn’t exist. Maryland is home to the nation’s 7th-highest housing wage, meaning the amount per hour an individual must earn working 40 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom housing unit at Fair Market Rent. The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom housing unit in Maryland is $1,281 a month. In no jurisdiction in the country can a person working a fulltime, minimum-wage job afford a two-bedroom housing unit at Fair Market Rent. It would take 3.1 fulltime, minimum-wage jobs...

Subsidized housing is disappearing. Over the last 15 years, Baltimore’s public housing stock has diminished by 40%. The waiting lists for the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher Program in Frederick, Harford and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City are closed. After a decade of being closed, Baltimore City opened its waiting list in 2014—for nine days. Though 74,000 households applied for 25,000 slots, only 6,000 to 9,000 will get vouchers in the next six years. Meanwhile, Baltimore County’s Section 8 wait list is open—estimated wait time: nine years.

Just get health care? Anybody can now...

Medicaid expansion is good—but not all good. While Medicaid expansion in Maryland has provided access to specialized health care for many more people, many physicians do not accept it, due to very low reimbursement rates. Medicaid does not cover prescription co-pays, which for many are still a major barrier to getting medications. And undocumented individuals are not eligible for Medicaid.

Much of the care people need is not billable. 40% of the health care services people experiencing homelessness need are not covered by insurance, including outreach to those staying on the street and in shelters, adult dental care and certain case management and nursing services. That doesn’t stop us from providing that care at Health Care for the Homeless; we raise resources for comprehensive services from private funders and grantors.

Caring for people in crisis requires specialized care. Chronic experiences of trauma, including violence and loss, are hazardous to one’s health. And they are pervasive among people experiencing homelessness: 93% of mothers without homes have a history of trauma and 81% have experienced multiple traumas. This reality requires an approach to care where providers pay close attention to people’s physical and emotional safety and wellbeing. Health Care for the Homeless practices “trauma-informed” care and provides the broad range of services and supports people experiencing homelessness need.