April 2012 Archive
I’ve participated in the annual Point-in-Time counts in a number of different cities over the past decade. The Point-in-Time count is one way we collectively can understand the scope and breadth of homelessness across the country and to measure our progress toward ending it. To kick off our new blog at USICH.gov, I thought I would reflect on a truly unique count that I did this January in New Orleans.
Rural homelessness is a topic that gets very little widespread coverage in the media, which may signal to the general public that homelessness is an urban problem. This is not the case. Rural and frontier homelessness is a pressing problem though it is one that looks different from urban homelessness. SAMHSA recently brought together expert practitioners and researchers to share their thoughts and best practices in serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness in rural areas. This is what I heard.
Last month, over 600 practitioners, policymakers, advocates, and consumers gathered together in New Orleans at an event called the ‘Housing First Partners Conference.’ The 2 ½ day event was the first national conference focused exclusively on the Housing First approach of providing people experiencing chronic homelessness with affordable rental housing linked to services immediately and without treatment preconditions. Let not the significance of this event be missed. It marks the moment of Housing First’s acceptance and establishment as the central approach for helping vulnerable men and women experiencing chronic homelessness permanently exit homelessness and regain health, hope, and dignity. As this movement goes mainstream, I leave the Housing First movement with three pieces of advice to retain the spirit of ingenuity that led to its birth.
Refreshing local Plans to end homelessness can be re-invigorating because our communities, and we as service providers and practitioners, have changed over time. We have more collective experience under our belts—we know more about what works and what we’d like to try. This eagerness to make a deeper impact is the fuel that powers the Plans. I share what communities can do to ensure that their Plans are well-crafted and can create an impact.