Maryland’s response to homelessness has primarily been emergency‐based, providing short‐term housing options to those meeting initial clinical prerequisites. Housing First, a cost‐effective national best practice for reducing homelessness, has been successful in communities such as Salt Lake City, UT and New Orleans, LA. The federal Opening Doors plan gives detailed guidance on the principles of Housing First.
During 2016, the Council adopted the following definition of Housing First for state and federally funded programs: Housing First offers homeless individuals and families access to permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible in a manner that is not time limited, connects tenants to optional supportive services; and has a low threshold for entry or ongoing tenancy, including no employment, income, or clinical prerequisites.
The cause of homelessness is primarily a lack of available, affordable, or adequate housing. Lack of income relative to cost of living, disabling conditions, domestic violence, and sudden income loss are common issues that result in individuals losing housing. The cost of living in Maryland has risen in the last year, increasing from eleventh to seventh among the 50 states and District of Columbia.
Availability of affordable rental housing for low‐income households in Maryland does not meet the current demand. The United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) estimates that Maryland has a shortage of 92,446 affordable rental‐housing units for families earning less than 50% of area median income (AMI)5 and a shortage of 98,297 units for families earning less than 30% of AMI.