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No More Homelessness in U.S.
is National Alliance's Vision for Future

August 2000

Ending homelessness in the U.S. within ten years is a goal within reach, says the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which held its annual conference in Washington, D.C., from July 12 to July 15, 2000.

At the conference, the alliance's board of directors outlined a ten-year plan that it believes will change the dynamic of homelessness. The four-step plan will not stop people from losing their housing, but it will alter the way that housing crises are addressed.

Here are the four steps outlined by the alliance's board of directors:

  • Plan for outcomes
    According to new data, U.S. cities could help homeless individuals more effectively by changing the mix of assistance they provide. First, they can collect better data at the local level. Next, they can create a planning process that focuses on ending homelessness, and then bring homeless assistance-providers, mainstream state and local agencies, and organizations whose clients are homeless to the table.

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  • Close the "front door"
    The homeless assistance system ends homelessness for thousands of people every day, but they are quickly replaced by others. People who become homeless are almost always clients of public aid programs, such as the mental health, public health, welfare and veterans systems, as well as the criminal justice, the child protective service systems, and foster care. The more effective the homeless assistance system is in caring for people, the less these other systems are called upon to help. We need to integrate all these services to work together and provide maximum aid.

  • Open the "back door"
    While most people who become homeless enter and exit homelessness quickly, some people spend more time in the system. Through a "housing first" approach, people should be helped to exit homelessness as quickly as possible. For the chronically homeless, this means "permanent supportive housing," or housing with services. This solution will save money as it reduces the use of other public systems. For families and less disabled single adults, it means moving people quickly into permanent housing and linking them with services. People should not spend years in homeless systems, either in shelters or transitional housing.

  • Build the infrastructure
    Systems can be changed to prevent homelessness and shorten the experience of homelessness. But until the affordable housing supply is increased, the poor become able to afford food, shelter, health care and other necessities, and disadvantaged people receive the services they need, people will continue to be threatened with instability.

Marlon Valdivia manages APLA' s Residential Services and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National AIDS Housing Coalition. He can be reached by calling (323) 993-1435 or by e-mail at mvaldivia@apla.org.



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
 
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