Too often, homelessness is seen as inevitable, instead of a problem we can address and solve. But across the country, communities are taking concrete steps to change that. And in the Obama Administration, we are working to make that possible with Opening Doors, the first ever strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Not reduce it, not redefine it, but end it.
The only way to attack a problem as vast as homelessness is with the support of the local communities we are trying to help. It is important to remember that the federal government doesn’t have all the answers. A lot of the time, the best thing Washington can do is empower communities with homeless populations to apply solutions best suited for them. What works in Los Angeles might not work in Louisville.
Of course, something as ambitious as ending homelessness requires us to track the progress we are making like never before. To that end, we announced the results of HUD’s Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) today. Though we still have a ways to go, the report showed we are making real progress.
For instance, in 2010 during a prolonged economic downturn, homelessness in American remained virtually flat. The lack of a homelessness spike during the recession speaks volumes about the impact our efforts are having on the problem.
One of the innovative approaches we have implemented in our fight against homelessness is the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP), funded by the Recovery Act. Many of America’s homeless are just in need of a temporary boost, a security deposit or first month’s rent, that can be the difference between life on the streets and permanent housing. Providing this assistance is not only the right thing to do but also cost-effective for the taxpayers, as allowing families to slip into homelessness ends up being much more costly in the long run. I am proud to report that 94% of those helped by HPRP ended up in permanent housing. That’s an impressive record by any measure.
Homelessness isn’t going to end overnight, but all of us in the Obama administration are serious about making sure we change the perception that it will never end. We can solve this problem, and with your help keeping us accountable to our ambitious goals, we will.
Respond to the author of this post on twitter @PeterTrue_HUD.