“Midway through the city of Portland and Multnomah County’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, an impressive number of people have been housed through a coordinated, countywide effort,” writes Joanne Zuhl, staff writer on the Street Roots blog.
“Likewise, however, an impressive number of people have arrived newly homeless to the streets through a national disaster.
“Five years into the plan, which promotes ‘housing first’ with supportive permanent housing programs, more than 7,000 homeless households have moved from the streets into housing (in Portland). At the same time, the engines of recession are driving more people to the streets for the first time in their lives.”
The numbers might not match up exactly, but you could run a search and replace on Zuhl’s piece, substituting Seattle for Portland, and pretty much make the same case: For all the good we are doing as a community creating more housing first and permanent housing opportunities (and we are accomplishing a lot there), there are still more newly homeless folks than our established community services can accomodate. Increasingly, the new homeless are families.
The 10-year plans have been integral to Federal funding of homeless services. But Zuhl reports that the Fed’s approach is changing
“On June 21, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which oversees the 10-year plan program, will unveil the new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which in process and policy supplants the 10-year plan concept. The new plan, set on a five-year agenda, will focus on not only ending chronic homelessness, but on a wider population, including veterans, families, youths and children, setting a ‘path to ending all types of homelessness.’ That’s a major expansion, from the federal viewpoint, on the 10-year agenda and one driven by accumulating statistics that the streets are filling up with families.”
Paul Carlson, regional coordinator for the Interagency Council on Homelessness based in Seattle, told Zuhl that he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the report until it was released, and that it was unclear what additional resources would be dedicated to address family and youth homelessness.
Hopefully, more than just shuffling the federal deck, the new plan will not only bring additional resources to bear, but also respond to the increasing number of newly homeless in need of additional emergency services.