This week our President, Nan Roman, penned an opinion piece in the Huffington Post about Opening Doors Across America, a new initiative of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to encourage communities to align their plans to end homelessness with the federal plan. This piece came out just a few days before USICH released their first annual update to the federal plan. In the Huffington Post piece, Nan reflects on the progress and setbacks we have experienced since we released the original Ten Year Plan roadmap in 2000.
In reading the news this week, I saw the progress and setbacks Nan discussed. Communities continue to adopt Ten Year Plans “to really end homelessness — not just manage it, not just shelter people, but find them permanent homes,” in the words of the United Way of Missoula County CEO Susan Hay Patrick. States like Massachusetts are rolling out large programs focused on proven strategies like rapid re-housing. One representative of this project said, “The Commonwealth now has the ability to offer alternatives, as opposed to just sheltering people. We believe this is a viable and effective response.’’ Hear, hear.
However, the economic obstacles we face still loom large. The Center on Budget and Policy priorities summed up today’s jobs report in stark graphs illustrating that recovery remains elusive. The New York Times looked at Reading, Pennsylvania, this week, which was recently cited as having the largest share of its residents living in poverty. They also published a personal report by a homeless Afghan war veteran, Matt Farwell, who wonders if fighting on the front lines beats living on the streets in the U.S. Finally homelessness, two local newspapers tell us, is a rural and suburban problem, not just an urban one.
Despite these obstacles, I know homelessness advocates have not thrown in the towel. This week, the Alliance and the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding hosted National Call-In Week. In order to prevent projected increases in homelessness, you picked up the phone this week and called your representatives to tell them we need to increase federal funding for essential programs like the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. Thank you to all of the advocated out there who made calls. If you haven’t yet participated in National Call-In Week, you still have time. Find out how, here.