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UAH economics expert shares inflation impact on homelessness

Dr. Wafa Orman says whenever rent is high, homelessness increases.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — We hear so much about the rapid growth in Huntsville. However, just how much of it impacts our homeless population that exists?

FOX54 News Keneisha Deas has some insight from an economics professor at UAH.

“Whenever rents are high we tend to see an increase in homelessness,” said Dr. Wafa Orman, Associate Dean for the College of Business and Associate Professor of Economics.

Dr. Wafa Orman said this increase in homelessness and higher rent, depends on a threshold. “A particular threshold sort-of tipping point tends to be that wherever median rent is more than 32% of median income.”

Orman says Huntsville is not there yet. The average rent is a little more than a thousand. “If our median rent starts to get close to around 1500 dollars a month, which we do, there are plenty of places in Huntsville where that is the rent, but that tends to be the nicer higher-end properties. I think that’s kind of a dangerous tipping point for us.”

UAH College of Business Dean, Dr. Jason Greene, says it’s where local partnerships come in to help where they can for homelessness, such as the UAH’s Local Leadership Group and ShowerUp. “It's it's in some ways visible, though not to everyone in some, in some ways this is an invisible part of our community that we don't always see but it exists,” said Greene.

Orman points back to problems with the supply chain, and the ripple effects it has on the housing market. “We actually do have land around us but the problem is we have all these supply chain issues. So lumber is expensive and steel is expensive. So we have people willing and able to build homes, but the supplies and conflicts are homes and apartments.”

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