Yesterday, in a joint press call with Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HUD Secretary Donovan announced this year’s “Point -in-Time” count, which captures the scope of homelessness on any given night in America. The Secretary was glad to share the news that homelessness has gone down by every measure between 2010 and 2011 – even in the wake of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The report shows homelessness has declined not only amongst individuals, but also for families and “chronically” homeless people – those on the streets for an extended period of time. Perhaps most inspiring is the fact that homelessness among our nation’s veterans dropped by nearly 12 percent over the past year.
Secretary Donovan attributed this important progress to the varied programs put forth not only at HUD, but across the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). He pointed to the Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program—or HPRP—which has saved more than 1 million people from living on our nation’s streets. And the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 that is designed to continue the work of HPRP by addressing issues ranging from prevention and outreach, to emergency, transitional housing and rapid re-housing, to permanent supportive housing. The HEARTH Act is part of this Administration’s commitment not only to homeless Americans – but to those who are in danger of becoming homeless.
All of the figures discussed put us on a path to meeting the goals mapped out by Opening Doors, the first ever strategic plan to end homelessness. Opening Doors convenes the power of 19 agencies to prevent and end veteran’s homelessness in 5 years and for families, youth, and children in ten years.
As the Secretary stated, these encouraging numbers are proving President Obama right in one of his strongest beliefs: that ending homelessness isn’t just a noble fight, but a problem we can solve.