According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (“NEAH”), on any given night in the United States there are 671,859 people experiencing homelessness based on point-in-time counts, which are required annually by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (“HUD”). The numbers are staggering when considering that there is an estimated 85,000 families experience homelessness each night, there are approximately 131,000 homeless veterans and an estimated 50,000 youth experience long-term homelessness.
NAEH reports that the people experiencing homelessness:
- 18 percent of the homeless population is considered "chronic," and
- 20 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately 1.5 million other veterans also at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans states that there are a “complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.”
While the ongoing recession, high unemployment and increased foreclosures have fueled homelessness in the United States, numerous efforts have provided some relief.
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which includes $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention Fund. Funding for this program, called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (“HPRP”), is being distributed based on the formula used for the Emergency Shelter Grants (“ESG”) program.
The key to eradicating homelessness is tailoring temporary and long-term solutions, offering housing support services – such as ongoing case management, employment and job training/retraining services, healthcare and other treatments, as well as other services.
The City of San Francisco reported this month that their efforts have yielded a reduction in homelessness by 12,000 people over the last six years. Mayor Gavin Newsom attributed the reduction to two very successful programs – Care Not Cash and Homeward Bound. The former helps pay for housing while the latter pays for people’s bus tickets home. Efforts to find permanent supportive housing have also contributed to the City’s success in reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness.
Additionally, San Francisco has used an approach similar to the one employed by HELP4U’s online platform with its Project Homeless Connect by connecting people to services through a one-stop shop.
The WE Movement and its HELP4U were honored to support such a worthwhile event. We have joined, will you? Learn more at http://www.wemovement.org/.