Last week HUD released its Point in Time count, which estimates the prevalence of homelessness nationwide on a single night in early 2012. Homeless counts were stagnant between 2011 and 2012, which appears to be an indication that targeted efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness are working. This suggests that the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program, for example, has had the positive and intended effect of offsetting the drag of a slow economy and persistently high unemployment rates.
There was some brighter news in the report as well. Significant drops of approximately 7 percent were reported both for people who have been chronically homeless and for homeless veterans. It is positive to see focused efforts achieving results for homeless people with very high challenges to housing stability. HUD’s report credits improved efforts to chronically homeless people and veterans out of shelter systems.
CSH believes targeted permanent housing resources to long-term stayers in the shelter system is an efficient use of funds given their typically high usage of very costly public systems such as emergency rooms and other public institutions. Additionally, offering supportive housing to people who have been chronically homeless, who’ve stayed long periods in the shelter system, will free beds for those who are experiencing short term and emergency needs. For the first time since counts were conducted chronic homelessness dropped below 100,000 persons nationally.
So while we see a stagnant Point in Time count, we can and should appreciate all the efforts that have gone into stemming the tides of new homelessness and the targeted efforts that have ending long term homelessness. So let’s keep working together to help achieve the goals of Opening Doors, the comprehensive federal plan to end homeless.