Today is the one-year anniversary of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. One year ago, the federal government committed to ending chronic and veteran homelessness in five years; homelessness among families, children, and youth in ten years; and moving the country toward ending all homelessness.
The Alliance released a Progress Report on the federal plan today; the Progress Report reveals that while there was a great deal of activity on the 52 strategies the Plan identified to meet the goals, measurable progress has been made on only 18 strategies. The two-part report assesses the Plan’s success on its own terms, measuring how much progress (none, some, or measurable) was made on each of the 52 strategies identified to achieve the goals. The second part of the report looks at a set of available local counts of homeless people to assess whether or not the number went up or down during the Plan’s first year.
Ultimately, we find that while the member agencies of the USICH have clearly been active, results have not yet started to emerge from the activity. External factors such as the economy and the budget deficit played a role in deterring progress on the Plan but they were hardly the only factor; an emphasis on coordination and information strategies rather than more substantive housing, treatment, and jobs strategies has also hindered progress.
Finally, data show a potential increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness since the time the Plan was released. While not conclusive, an examination of certain point-in-time counts shows a slight increase in homelessness during the Plan’s first year.
Today, USICH is hosting a stakeholder call in which all interested parties are invited to weigh in on the plan, it’s progress, and it’s future. Let them know what you think! We know that the federal plan was a critically important step towards ending homelessness in our nation – but in order to make real, discernable progress, we all need to take bolder steps in creating jobs, affordable housing, and economic opportunity.