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Informed Social and Public Policies Locally and Nationally To End and Prevent Homelessness

Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (2020)

Prioritizing Housing First as an approach for helping every person experiencing homelessness has been ineffective in the reduction of homelessness for all populations and communities. Data shows that homelessness has increased, despite the increase in federal funding, the redefining of technical terms and programs, and the incorporation of housing first policies. The Housing First approach should be balanced with other services that lead to improvements in economic status, housing stability, and self-sufficiency. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) created a strategic plan to reduce homelessness via a trauma-informed approach that addresses the root causes of homelessness. This plan explores eight solutions which focus on: sustainable affordable housing; creating pathways to self-sufficiency through adequate employment opportunities; healthcare and mental health services tailored to the needs of individuals; and recognizing the role of structural racism in populations of people experiencing homelessness. To learn more about how USICH uses a nationwide approach to refine and enhance the federal response to homelessness, please visit  https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/6196/expanding-the-toolbox-the-whole-of-government-response-to-homelessness/

CITATION: “Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness.” HUD Exchange, October 2020. https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/6196/expanding-the-toolbox-the-whole-of-government-response-to-homelessness/. 

Western Regional Advocacy Project Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness, and Policy Failures

Homelessness in America is a national crisis. For decades, the federal government’s insufficient policies and approaches to preventing and ending homelessness has led to little long-term sustainable progress. Mass homelessness in America is the consequence of urban renewal and gentrification, the dismantling of the New Deal policies, and heightened eligibility requirements for public housing subsidies. However, the lack of affordable housing is continuously cited as the primary cause of homelessness. Historically, federal legislation has cut affordable housing programs while increasing military spending, multiplying tax breaks to benefit the wealthy and institutionalizing a shelter culture further perpetuating homelessness. Access to and the availability of universal affordable housing, for all people, is the solution to preventing and ending homelessness and a recommitment to human rights. To learn about the root causes of homelessness and ways the federal government can mitigate and solve this crisis, please visit https://wraphome.org//wp-content/uploads/2008/09/2010%20Update%20Without%20Housing.pdf (2010 report); See also https://wraphome.org//wp-content/uploads/2008/09/WRAPWithoutHousingfederalcutbacks2007report.pdf (2006 report)

CITATION: “WITHOUT HOUSING: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks Massive Homelessness AND Policy Failures (2010 Update) .” Western Regional Advocacy Project, n.d. https://wraphome.org//wp-content/uploads/2008/09/2010%20Update%20Without%20Housing.pdf; see also “WITHOUT HOUSING: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness, and Policy Failures.” Western Regional Advocacy Project, n.d. https://wraphome.org//wp-content/uploads/2008/09/WRAPWithoutHousingfederalcutbacks2007report.pdf.

Challenging Racial Injustice in the Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States: a Human Rights Approach

Despite comprising 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans account for 40% of the homeless population. Discriminatory policies like over-policing of Black communities, criminalizing life-saving activities (i.e., sleeping in vehicles or in public places), and forced relocation of those experiencing homelessness (i.e. threatening arrest, psychiatric holds, or destruction of property) disproportionately affect African Americans. Policies and laws that criminalize homelessness and prohibit life-sustaining activities should be eliminated until the government can provide viable solutions to end and prevent homelessness. Adopting policies that address the root causes of homelessness, such as guaranteeing the access to affordable housing and protections against forced evictions, will ensure basic needs are met and provide stability to allow persons experiencing homelessness to improve other areas of their lives. To learn more about social and public policies that criminalize homelessness, the root causes of homelessness and prospective solutions to preventing and ending homelessness, please read https://lawreview.law.miami.edu/challenging-racial-injustice-criminalization-homelessness-united-states-human-rights-approach/.

CITATION: June 18, 2021, 2021 June 15, 2021 April 21, and 2021 April 11. “Challenging Racial Injustice in the Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States: a Human Rights Approach.” University of Miami Law Review, May 13, 2021.  https://lawreview.law.miami.edu/challenging-racial-injustice-criminalization-homelessness-united-states-human-rights-approach/.

Costs of COVID-19 Evictions

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of adequate rental assistance and eviction protections have destabilized many families, causing a flood of eviction-related homelessness. As moratoriums come to an end, it is clear that the federal government has failed to provide rental assistance and eviction protections renters need in the face of crisis. Disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx communities, one in four renters have no or slight confidence they can pay next month’s rent. With a focus on communities with the greatest needs, the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act (the Act) has been proposed to provide funding to states, localities, and tribes for rental assistance and other housing-related costs (moving fees, utility payments, deposits, etc) for at-risk households. As the number of people on the brink of eviction increases, it is evident that the federal government must implement housing protection policies to prevent future widespread of eviction-related homelessness. To learn more about the relationship between evictions and homelessness, and the need to reform housing policies, please visit https://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/costs-of-covid19-evictions.pdf.

CITATION: Threet, Dan, Andrew Aurand, Mackenzie Pish, Kylie Allen, and Samuel Carroll. “Https://Nlihc.org/Sites/Default/Files/Costs-of-covid19-Evictions.pdf.” National Low Income Housing Coalition, November 2020. https://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/costs-of-covid19-evictions.pdf.

One Way to Get People Off the Streets: For homeless people, a place to live is life changing to a degree that almost no other intervention can provide.

Over the last decade, the number of people experiencing homelessness in California has increased 40% —accounting for more than half of the nation’s unsheltered population experiencing homelessness. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and with hopes of creating permanent supportive housing, the governor of California created the “Homekey” program. California has set up a national model to create new housing accommodations by repurposing real estate. Acquiring 120 properties, the purpose of Homekey was to help as many people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into supportive housing. California’s Homekey program is a prime example of how the government’s implementation of supporting housing policies can bring stability and  provide people experiencing homelessness an avenue to employment, social support, safety, and improved health. To read more about California’s policy response to COVID-19 and homelessness and how the provision of basic needs can be life changing for people who experience homelessness, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/business/california-homeless-hotels.html#:~:text=For%20homeless%20people%2C%20a%20place,no%20other%20intervention%20can%20provide.

CITATION: Dougherty, Conor. “One Way to Get People Off the Streets: Buy Hotels.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 17, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/business/california-homeless-hotels.html.