At the end of this year we will reach the deadline for a truly historic goal set in 2010: an end to homelessness among all veterans! The clock is ticking.
Since the goal was set in the federal government’s strategic plan Opening Doors, we’ve seen tremendous progress around the country. Just today, the federal government declared Connecticut the first state to end chronic homelessness among veterans. True, chronically homeless veterans make up a fraction of the total homeless veteran population, but this is an important achievement, one we expect to see repeated soon.
Imagine trying to commute to work in a city where each bus makes up its own schedule and route and sets its own prices. You might eventually get where you’re going, but it would be an inefficient, frustrating process. It’s much easier to commute in a city with a coordinated transit system.
So why is it when we think of the response to homelessness in our communities, we often think of programs like shelters or housing programs that operate independently? That’s changing. Across the country a big shift is happening behind the scenes. Rather than a number of programs serving their clients as best they can on their own, whole communities are working together to build effective systems to produce a coordinated response to homelessness.
Say you’re homeless and you live in a city with a growing homeless population. At night, the shelters may be crowded or filled, and during the day the shelters don’t provide a place to sleep. You're exhausted and have to sleep somewhere, but you have no options. What do you do?
Every day and every night, thousands of homeless people find themselves in this very situation. So they find a park or a place on a sidewalk or somewhere else not fit for human habitation. They do the best they can to make themselves comfortable and they fall asleep. Should that be a crime?
Ever since the days of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), communities have been using rapid re-housing to making great strides toward ending homelessness.
And while we know that rapid re-housing, which provides short-term subsidies to get homeless people into housing and back on their feet, is much more cost-effective than traditional homelessness interventions, some people still assume the model won’t work for homeless youth. But youth providers around the country are already proving that assumption wrong.
There are many paths to homelessness—job loss, a medical emergency, or an increase in rent, to name a few—and there are many paths to exit homelessness. Though every person’s story is unique, there are commonalities amongst them.
Recently, we looked at why minimum wage isn’t enough to afford housing and why there are increasingly few affordable rental units available to low-income households. When you take these two trends together, it’s easy to infer disastrous results: many low-income renters are at risk of falling into homelessness.