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The Consequences of Insufficient Household Income

This new Consequences of Insufficient Household Income report provides a deeper level of understanding of the choices that ALICE and poverty-level families across the country make when they do not have enough income or assistance to afford basic necessities, and the consequences of those choices.

coverage costs for all.

coverage costs for all. If ALICE families cannot afford health care expenses, those costs are often absorbed by insurers – who distribute them across plan members – as well as by taxpayers to cover the cost of Medicaid services and hospitals that incur the costs of uncompensated care (Belsky, Goodman, & Drew, 2005; Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2016; American Hospital Association, December 2016). • Exposure to toxins like lead causes direct and indirect costs to the community. In children, such exposure can cause neurobehavioral conditions that require extensive health care services, social services, and educational support, limiting their future potential, and it imposes economic costs on family members who become caregivers. Overall, toxic chemical exposures cost the U.S. more than $340 billion annually due to health care costs, developmental problems, and lost wages, according to a 2016 study (Ellen & Glied, Spring 2015; Maqbool, Viveiros, & Ault, April 2015; Attina, et al., December 2016). • When affordable housing is located far from jobs, it creates more traffic, which adds costs for all commuters including wear-and-tear on roads, increased maintenance costs, and an increased likelihood of accidents and delays. • When long commutes reduce worker productivity, co-workers and customers can suffer. Long commutes can also reduce new hire retention and performance. Together these impact the business bottom line and state economic competitiveness (van Ommeren & Gutierrez-i-Puigarnau, 2011; Belsky, Goodman, & Drew, 2005; Sullivan, 2015; National Economic Council and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, July 2014). • As families move farther away from urban centers, the resulting suburban development requires costly additional infrastructure and services such as roads, public transit, and sewage. Looking just at transportation costs, development on the fringes of cities over a 15-year period costs nearly 18 UNITED WAY ALICE REPORT – THE CONSEQUENCES OF INSUFFICIENT HOUSEHOLD INCOME

twice as much as redevelopment of inner-city transportation. It is estimated that urban sprawl costs the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion per year (Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, 2015; Trubka, Newman, & Bilsborough, 2010). • Run-down housing affects neighborhoods. Housing units that have not been maintained add safety risks and detract from the appearance of public spaces like sidewalks and streets. • Homes in foreclosure impose costs on neighborhoods and local government agencies, reducing property values for neighbors and increasing costs for the community. On average, neighbors of foreclosed-on homes lost 9 percent of their home value from 2007 to 2012, and neighbors of foreclosures in neighborhoods of color lost 16 percent of their home value. In addition, one foreclosure can impose up to $34,000 in direct costs on local government agencies, including the costs of inspections, court actions, police and fire department efforts, potential demolition, unpaid water and sewage, and trash removal. Foreclosures are also bad for many local banks, as both lenders and investors lose money on them (Apgar, Duda, & Gorey, 2005; Center for Responsible Lending, 2013; Frame, 2010; Immergluck & Smith, 2006). • Communities bear the cost of caring for homeless families. The costs of homelessness go far beyond the immediate costs of emergency shelter systems, since homeless households are more likely to interact with the criminal justice system, utilize inpatient and outpatient psychiatric facilities, and use the emergency room and inpatient hospital services. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that the cost of public services for the homeless ranges from $19,000 per year for one person in Denver, Colorado to over $40,000 per year in New York. In fact, New York City, with the nation’s largest sheltered homeless population, spent $1.3 billion on services to the homeless between July 2015 and June 2016 (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2010; New York City Department of Homeless Services, 2016). UNITED WAY ALICE REPORT – THE CONSEQUENCES OF INSUFFICIENT HOUSEHOLD INCOME 19

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