The date Dec. 21 has meanings both ancient and new. Communities in every era have paused in awareness of waning daylight and the promise of the sun’s return; in our era, some will pause to look for assurance that the world keeps turning. It is appropriate that National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is Dec. 21.
For people living on the street, the darkest day of the calendar is especially dark; for a person to die on the street is an ending that should be unthinkable. Homeless advocates, today, will pause to honor the neighbors and fellow citizens who passed away in 2012 without a home.
After years of trying to nail down a definition of chronic homelessness, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finally released a new definition earlier this month. The new definition incorporates comments submitted over the years by a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Alliance.
Now that HUD’s definition is finalized, communities will need to make adjustments to their homeless systems in order to implement the new definition and use it to help end homelessness. We think the new definition will lead to improvements. But to understand fully why it’s good for ending homelessness, you need to first understand what the new definition changes.
Over the last 10 years, HUD has invested heavily in programs that provide permanent supportive housing (PSH) for chronically homeless persons. The scaling up of PSH has resulted in a dramatic reduction in chronic homelessness in the U.S.
HUD uses a competitive application process to determine funding for programs, which has driven the country closer to the goal of ending chronic homelessness. For CoC applicants this boils down to points. HUD has for many past NOFAs given more points, or a competitive edge, to CoCs who propose to fund more PSH for chronically homeless persons.