The Board of Directors of the National Alliance to End Homelessness believes that, in fact, ending homelessness is well within the nation's grasp. We can reverse the incentives in mainstream systems so that rather than causing homelessness, they are preventing it. And we can make the homeless assistance system more outcome-driven by tailoring solution-oriented approaches more directly to the needs of the various sub-populations of the homeless population. In this way, homelessness can be ended within ten years. (NAEH)
Thirty years ago there was not wide-spread homelessness in America. Tonight nearly a million people will be homeless, despite a two billion dollar a year infrastructure designed to deal with the problem. Several factors have affected its growth over the last two decades. Housing has become scarcer for those with little money. Earnings from employment and from benefits have not kept pace with the cost of housing for low income and poor people. Services that every family needs for support and stability have become harder for very poor people to afford or find.
In addition to these systemic causes, social changes have exacerbated the personal problems of many poor Americans, leading to them to be more vulnerable to homelessness. These social trends have included new kinds of illegal drugs, more single parent and teen-headed households with low earning power, and thinning support networks.
These causes of homelessness must be addressed. People who are homeless must be helped, and the current system does this reasonably well for many of those who become homeless. But the homeless assistance system can neither prevent people from becoming homeless nor change the overall availability of housing, income, and services that will truly end homelessness. (NAEH)