These are the keynote remarks delivered by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro on the second day of our 2015 National Conference on Ending Gamily and Youth Homelessness, Feb. 20, 2015. You can also find them on the HUD website.
Alliance staff people are back in the cold weather in Washington, DC, after an enlighteing experience at the 2015 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessnessin San Diego last week. The final count was 950 people attending, an all-time high for our family and youth conference. Traffic on Twitter was robust, giving people all over the country who couldn’t attend a taste of what was going on.
And once again, the impression we were left with was the overwhelming enthusiasm and determination that people in this field have, despite obstacles and challenges, to celebrate successes, to push themselves to do better, and never give up on the youth and families who are homeless. In the closing plenary Friday afternoon, Alliance President and CEO Nan Roman shared her thoughts on some things that had impressed her over the course of the conference. Here is a look at some of the highlights.
At the Alliance, we’ve been talking a lot about the push to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. And we’re not the only ones (see: the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, the President and First Lady, and the list goes on…). Of course, telling you, “you need to end veteran homelessness this year” is much easier said than done. We recognize that. That’s why the Alliance will be providing as much guidance to communities as possible throughout the year.
Recently, several policy experts at the Alliance put their heads together to examine communities that have made real progress on ending veteran homelessness (and overall homelessness) to see how they are doing it. We’ve distilled that knowledge into this document, “Five Steps to End Veteran Homelessness,” which, as the title suggests, outlines the five major steps that communities must take to get the job done.
Over the years, chronic homelessness in America has dropped significantly. Thanks to the hard work of housing agencies, and advocates in communities around the country, working with the support of federal policies, the number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has declined by 21 percent since 2010.
Even so, on a given night, more than 80,000 individuals experience chronic homelessness, which means they are disabled and have experienced homelessness either for a year or longer or at least four times in the last three years. Chronically homeless people make up less than 15 percent of the overall population on a given night, but they are the most vulnerable, and therefore the most in need of our help.
(It’s also cheaper to house them than let them remain homelessness, when you weigh the cost in social services against the cost of providing them with housing services.)
That’s why, back in 2010, the Obama administration set a goal for ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 in “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.” That’s a year later than the date the administration set for ending veteran homelessness, and while we’re optimistic about ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 (and we’re not alone), ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 seemed increasingly unlikely.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in San Diego this week for our 2015 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness. Here in DC, as you may already be aware, we just had a ton of snow dumped on us. Some of us had our flights to San Diego canceled, and we’ve had to scramble to make new arrangements. But so far it looks like we’re all going to make it.
If you’re going to be there, please consider sharing your experience on social media using the conference hashtag #NAEH15. If you aren’t attending, you can keep up with the conference on Twitter, on the Alliance blog, and the Alliance Facebook page. Alliance staff will be tweeting about conference content, events, and speakers throughout the event.