How Can We End Homelessness?

Housing First Works!
Provides A Place to Call Home

An April 25, 2016 Alana Semuels, writer for The Atlantic article asks “How can the U.S. End Homelessness? Giving people access to support services and a place to stay can reduce the number of those living on the streets. But can that be done affordably?”

The article counters that increasing shelter capacity is not a permanent solution to homelessness.

“… Shelters don’t allow residents to develop a sense of permanency—and it’s permanency that helps people get a job or stay sober, as numerous studies have indicated.”

On the challenges in creating permanent, affordable housing, the article makes the case for expanding the Tax Credit program,

“There are federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that help certain developers build 100 percent affordable housing. But developers compete for those tax credits, and there aren’t enough to help build affordable housing for all the people who need it …”

Increasing the capacity of Housing First programs can help create affordable housing. As just one example of Housing First’s success,

“Through housing-first, Utah reduced its chronically-homeless population 72 percent between 2005 and 2014. Just having a roof over their head, a permanent address, and a place to prepare food and store belongings made so much of a difference for people that the director of the state’s Housing and Community Development Division told the Washington Post that the number of chronically homeless was ‘approaching a functional zero.’”

A final solution offered is creating mixed use housing – permanent supportive housing along with low-income housing.

In order to effectively end homelessness and implement the above best practices, increased federal funding is critical.

“For some, it’s hard to imagine carving out more money from the country’s budget to address these issues. But solving homelessness can help fix a lot of other problems too, including truancy from schools, food insecurity, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment. Is it possible that directing more resources toward solving homelessness could actually save society money by helping to fix its other ills at the same time?”

How can the U.S. End Homelessness?