Eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness, especially for families with children. Rising housing and living costs with stagnant or falling incomes places poor families at risk of eviction. As families experience rising costs without rising wages, housing becomes difficult to hold on to.
In this region, a high percentage of households pay at least 30 percent of their income on rent. In Monroe and Vernon counties, over 35 percent of households are cost-burdened and that number rises to over 40 percent in Crawford and La Crosse counties. These households are one unexpected expense away from eviction.
There are lasting consequences of eviction for communities. After eviction, families are often forced to move to new neighborhoods or towns, affecting schools and other public services. Evicted families regularly experience prolonged homelessness. Compared with their peers, homeless students and those with high rates of residential instability perform worse on standardized tests, have lower school achievement and delayed literacy skills, are more likely to drop out.
Stable housing is important to the well-being of individuals, families, and our community as a whole. Providing stable housing and lowering evictions is a human capital investment. Similar to programs to improve education or job training, initiatives to expand access to stable, safe, and affordable housing have the potential to decrease poverty and homelessness and stabilize families, schools and neighborhoods.
To learn more about the consequences of eviction, download Couleecap’s latest Community Concerns paper entitled “The Startling Consequences of Eviction” at www.couleecap.org.
Hetti Brown, Westby