Increase in people facing housing crisis and homelessness since the pandemic

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Waypoint Services Housing Director said they were seeing a historic increase in the need for its homeless and housing crisis services.

J’nae Peterman said the nonprofit, which is the central point of contact for people in a housing crisis, has seen 5-times the number of people seeking help since the pandemic. In the fiscal year 2019, they helped 3,003 people. That number jumped to 13,039 last fiscal year.

“We changed how the program works,” she said. “Before, it was simply you’re unsheltered or sleeping in an emergency shelter, and we’d connect them to housing services. Now, we’re identifying people who might be at risk or entering the system and getting them connected to outside resources.”

Peterman said the increase was more than just the change to the program, but because of the lack of affordable housing, the pandemic made it difficult to find jobs, and inflated prices were inflated, pinching everyone’s pocketbooks.

“People are finding it difficult to budget and stabilize their housing,” said Peterman.

Peterman said the solution to helping the new group of people wasn’t going to be an easy one because of the stigma surrounding the term ‘affordable housing.

“There’s a stigma that comes along with the term affordable housing, and then we get into that conversation about ‘not in my backyard,” said Peterman. “We want affordable housing that needs to be in this neighborhood. It impacts us all. We need affordable housing for a thriving community.”