Last week’s budget recommendations included a pleasant surprise for permanent supportive housing advocates: 10,000 new homeless and special needs vouchers specifically focused on building collaboration between federal agencies. It’s a welcome sign that the Obama administration is willing to invest in real, practical solutions to homelessness.
Permanent supportive housing is a proven solution to chronic homelessness; it’s a paradigm shift we’ve been working on here at the Alliance for years, so it’s really exciting to hear the federal government speaking our language:
Stable housing is the foundation upon which all else in a family’s or individual’s life is built–absent a safe, affordable place to live, it is next to impossible to achieve good health, positive educational outcomes, or reach one’s full economic potential.
Here’s what’s special about this initiative:
- Targeting mainstream supports to homeless people: The program could be a catalyst for learning how to target programs like Medicaid and substance abuse treatment to homeless individuals. Since these systems are frequently used by chronically homeless individuals and permanent supportive housing cuts down on use of services, it just makes sense for these agencies to figure out how best to work together.
- A “silo-busting” alignment of resources: The program represents a move toward interagency collaboration. Take a child whose family is in shelter: not only would the program provide her family with a housing voucher, but it would also connect them with income support such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. What’s more, homeless liaisons from the Department of Education might help identify the family before they became homeless and work to keep them housed.
As we blog, Congress is making its way through the budget and appropriations process (or at least, they would be if the District wasn’t paralyzed by snow…). We think the initiative has enormous potential, so we’ll keep you informed as the program makes it’s way toward the final federal budget.