Last week, Americans reelected President Barack Obama to lead our nation for another four years. During his first term we launched Opening Doors and began the tough but necessary work of making our nation’s response to homelessness more strategic, more responsive, and more collaborative across all levels of government and the non-profit and private sectors. Since the launch of Opening Doors, the nation has made progress toward preventing and ending homelessness despite the economic downturn and continued recovery.
As a nation, we’ve reduced Veteran homelessness by 12 percent, thanks in large part to the commitment and collaboration of HUD and VA, working in partnership with local communities. We also prevented and ended homelessness for over 1.3 million Americans through the Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program, and building on that incredible success, HUD has incorporated those same winning practices into the new Emergency Solutions Grant. A path has been cleared to end chronic homelessness as communities across the country are achieving real results by targeting those who are most high-need and connecting them to resources and permanent supportive housing. And the strategies and actions needed to end homelessness among families, children, and youth are becoming clearer. Together, we’re moving forward.
However, while the ambitious goal to prevent and end homelessness is achievable, it will only be done if we can step up and finish what we’ve started together. The road ahead is hard and will be more challenging than what we’ve seen before. But if you’re an able partner, if you’re willing to do your share, to do what’s needed at the state and local level then we’ll be successful. The work ahead will require not only new investments, but smart investments. Finishing the job will mean seriously evaluating the needs in your community and looking for areas where repurposing or retargeting resources can be more effective. Now, more than ever, it is critically important that smart, strategic decisions are made about how limited resources are spent and how working with mainstream partners is coordinated. To end homelessness resources must be pushed to only the most successful and cost effective interventions, and the collaboration among all systems that touch those experiencing or at risk of homelessness must be strengthened.
Together we’ve learned these five things that are the foundation of our forward movement:
- Data: Effective use of data drives results
- Mainstream Resources: Mainstream systems engagement and integration with targeted homeless programs is critically important to overall success
- Targeting: Directing existing and new resources more effectively leads to better outcomes
- Using Evidence: Implementing evidence-informed practices requires the commitment of funders and providers
- Investments: New investments, when strategically deployed, lead to reductions in homelessness
In the next four years we can finish the job of ending chronic and Veterans homelessness, and we can build the momentum and mechanisms necessary to end homelessness among families, children and youth by 2020, but only if together we can meet the challenge and do what’s necessary.
I’m inspired by the work being done in communities across the nation, and that’s why I believe we can do it. I believe that we can prevent and end homelessness in America because I believe in the ability of Americans to work together for a common good. I share this belief with our President, who reinforced the sentiment last week when he said:
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another…Among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
Our duty is to work together and to cross the finish line together, and to reach the goals necessary to prevent and end homelessness in America. USICH and our partners across the federal government are energized by the opportunity to continue our work with you. Only together can we realize our shared vision that no one should experience homelessness and no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.