30 episodes

Formerly Housing for Huntsvillians ,this podcast chronicles one couple’s quest to eliminate homelessness in their hometown by August 2026.

Huntsville, Alabama is one of the best places to live in large part due to how far your paycheck goes here. But, all that is changing as housing costs have skyrocketed over the past five years. And as housing prices rise, rates of homelessness are rising too.

Huntsville is hardly alone. Rates of homelessness are skyrocketing in growing cities across the US.

The reason is simple. In high-growth cities, housing costs are rising faster than paychecks.

According to The Council of Economic Advisers, poverty researchers, and advocates, the cost of housing is, by far, the biggest contributor to rising homelessness.

A recent landmark report from the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco, draws from nearly 3,200 questionnaires and 365 in-depth interviews. It’s the single deepest study on homelessness in America in decades, the largest representative study of homelessness since the mid-1990s, and the first large-scale representative study to use mixed methods (surveys and in-depth interviews). According to the authors, “High housing costs and low income left participants vulnerable to homelessness.” And high housing costs keep unhoused people unhoused. “While participants faced many barriers to returning to housing, the primary one was cost,” the authors write.

Mental health, addiction, and disability do make it more difficult for a person to afford housing. But they do not cause homelessness. We’re creating far more homeless people every day in this country than the much slower rise in mental illness, addiction, or disability can explain. What causes homelessness is not being able to afford a home.

Huntsville is hardly alone. Cities across the US are facing severe nationwide housing crises. Nationwide, half of renters must spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

This is a direct result of cities severely underbuilding housing.

We know housing prices create and exacerbate homelessness nationwide. But just looking at Huntsville, we can see that both housing prices and the number of homeless individuals both began to rise around 2016. Today, Huntsville is home to an estimated 600 unhoused people.

Since at least 2016, Huntsville’s population has been growing faster than we’ve built new homes – just like in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Austin have been doing for far longer. And just like in those cities, high rents have priced residents out of their homes and onto the streets, spiking homelessness too.

Between 2000-2020 Huntsville added 57,000 new residents but built fewer than 10,000 new units of housing. When demand rises faster than supply, prices rise. If projections are correct, Huntsville will end up having added 28,089 new units of housing between 2004 and 2024. But even that isn’t going to be enough to lower average rents.

The only way to lower average housing costs in Huntsville is to build far more abundant, affordable, dense new housing.

There will always be a small percentage of the population who, due to physical and/or mental challenges, cannot manage to secure and maintain housing without assistance. But we’re not seeing rates of homelessness grow at an alarming pace because so many more people are suddenly facing crippling illness. What they’re suddenly facing is rising rents and stagnant incomes. And in nearly every case, homelessness creates or worsens physical illness, mental illness, and addiction, not the other way around.

While it’s true that labor and materials have become more expensive, the primary reason for rising housing prices and rising homelessness is a simple one: Supply and demand. All else equal, when demand outstrips supply, prices rise. And when supply outstrips demand, prices fall.

That data is clear that when cities build more homes, average rents

Welcome to Huntsville (formerly Housing for Huntsvillians‪)‬ Huntsville YIMBY

    • News
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Formerly Housing for Huntsvillians ,this podcast chronicles one couple’s quest to eliminate homelessness in their hometown by August 2026.

Huntsville, Alabama is one of the best places to live in large part due to how far your paycheck goes here. But, all that is changing as housing costs have skyrocketed over the past five years. And as housing prices rise, rates of homelessness are rising too.

Huntsville is hardly alone. Rates of homelessness are skyrocketing in growing cities across the US.

The reason is simple. In high-growth cities, housing costs are rising faster than paychecks.

According to The Council of Economic Advisers, poverty researchers, and advocates, the cost of housing is, by far, the biggest contributor to rising homelessness.

A recent landmark report from the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco, draws from nearly 3,200 questionnaires and 365 in-depth interviews. It’s the single deepest study on homelessness in America in decades, the largest representative study of homelessness since the mid-1990s, and the first large-scale representative study to use mixed methods (surveys and in-depth interviews). According to the authors, “High housing costs and low income left participants vulnerable to homelessness.” And high housing costs keep unhoused people unhoused. “While participants faced many barriers to returning to housing, the primary one was cost,” the authors write.

Mental health, addiction, and disability do make it more difficult for a person to afford housing. But they do not cause homelessness. We’re creating far more homeless people every day in this country than the much slower rise in mental illness, addiction, or disability can explain. What causes homelessness is not being able to afford a home.

Huntsville is hardly alone. Cities across the US are facing severe nationwide housing crises. Nationwide, half of renters must spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

This is a direct result of cities severely underbuilding housing.

We know housing prices create and exacerbate homelessness nationwide. But just looking at Huntsville, we can see that both housing prices and the number of homeless individuals both began to rise around 2016. Today, Huntsville is home to an estimated 600 unhoused people.

Since at least 2016, Huntsville’s population has been growing faster than we’ve built new homes – just like in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Austin have been doing for far longer. And just like in those cities, high rents have priced residents out of their homes and onto the streets, spiking homelessness too.

Between 2000-2020 Huntsville added 57,000 new residents but built fewer than 10,000 new units of housing. When demand rises faster than supply, prices rise. If projections are correct, Huntsville will end up having added 28,089 new units of housing between 2004 and 2024. But even that isn’t going to be enough to lower average rents.

The only way to lower average housing costs in Huntsville is to build far more abundant, affordable, dense new housing.

There will always be a small percentage of the population who, due to physical and/or mental challenges, cannot manage to secure and maintain housing without assistance. But we’re not seeing rates of homelessness grow at an alarming pace because so many more people are suddenly facing crippling illness. What they’re suddenly facing is rising rents and stagnant incomes. And in nearly every case, homelessness creates or worsens physical illness, mental illness, and addiction, not the other way around.

While it’s true that labor and materials have become more expensive, the primary reason for rising housing prices and rising homelessness is a simple one: Supply and demand. All else equal, when demand outstrips supply, prices rise. And when supply outstrips demand, prices fall.

That data is clear that when cities build more homes, average rents

    Mandy Kilgore on Community of Hope, Homelessness, and Holistic Support

    Mandy Kilgore on Community of Hope, Homelessness, and Holistic Support

    This week we are joined by Mandy Kilgore from Community of Hope, an organization aiming to address homelessness in Huntsville by creating a master-planned community with mental health services, addiction therapy, and workforce development.

    Read more and watch the video version of this episode at https://hsvyimby.com/podcast/community-of-hope

    To learn more about Community of Hope, visit https://hsvcommunityofhope.org/

    • 51 min
    We’re moving in a new direction

    We’re moving in a new direction

    In this episode we announced the launch of Huntsville YIMBY and why we’re starting a new non-profit chapter (hint: it’s fundraising). We also talked about what’s next for Housing for Huntsvillians. We’re going in a new direction. Namely, we’re changing our name to Welcome to Huntsville and broadening our focus. Stay tuned!

    • 9 min
    More than you ever wanted to know about guardianships

    More than you ever wanted to know about guardianships

    For this episode of the pod we were joined, once again, by elder law attorney Zach Anderson of Anderson Estate Planning.

    The idea that mental illness is the main cause of homelessness is a myth that persists despite copious research debunking it.

    But there is a relationship between mental illness and homelessness. For example, all else equal, people with severe mental illness are more likely to experience homelessness. Also, homelessness causes and exacerbates existing mental illness. Most importantly for this discussion, simply building enough housing to meet demand would solve homelessness for the vast majority of people. Cash assistance would keep the vast majority of extremely low-income families out of homelessness. But for a very small percentage of the population, severe mental illness and/or addiction prohibits them from being able to stay housed even with cheaper housing and cash assistance.

    This conversation follows up on our interview with Mike Tanner about conservatorship. We discuss with Zach how the law defines guardianship/conservatorship, who’s eligible,  and the legal mechanisms that are in place, and need to be in place, to protect these individuals from the harms of homelessness. It was an extremely enlightening conversation for me, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

    • 57 min
    A listener sounds off!

    A listener sounds off!

    In this episode we read an email from a listener who wants to correct the record on some of what our last guest, Guy Sotomayor, had to say. Learn about zoning, land ownership by developers, infrastructure responsibilities, and mixed-use development in the county. We also discuss what we learned at a recent Alabama Arise training and our first Madison County Legislative Delegation Forum. Finally, we list a few upcoming Huntsville New Liberals events, including happy hours and our first business meeting.

    • 16 min
    Guy Sotomayor on what exactly the Madison County Commission Chairman does

    Guy Sotomayor on what exactly the Madison County Commission Chairman does

    Guy Sotomayor is a Democrat running for Madison County Commission Chairman. In this episode, he explains what the Madison County Commission does, what the Chairman does, and why you should vote him into office this November.

    • 35 min
    We respond to your comments!

    We respond to your comments!

    We had to reschedule an interview due to ice and snow. So this week on the pod we took the opportunity to respond to some listener comments! We love to hear from our listeners. To join the discussion, check us out on Instagram and YouTube. Who should we interview? What should we ask them? What do you want to hear more of and less of? Tell us what you think and if your comment is especially good (or bad) we’ll include it in our next roundup.

    • 29 min

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