Towards a comprehensive homeless-prevention strategy

Eric N. Lindblom


Because of the misery and deprivation suffered by homeless persons, the initial response to homelessness in the United States focused first on quickly addressing the dire need for emergency food and shelter, and then on providing additional assistance to already homeless persons—ideally to help them move out of homelessness. New preventive measures to help people avoid becoming homeless were largely ignored or put off. But now that efforts to provide emergency food and shelter are well under way throughout the country, many more experts, policymakers and service organizations have begun focusing on homelessness prevention. Nevertheless, actual prevention efforts are still tentative and somewhat haphazard. In support of a more rapid expansion of effective homelessness-prevention activities, this paper discusses the benefits of prevention, develops an initial framework for a comprehensive homeless-prevention strategy, and, using this framework, evaluates existing prevention efforts and suggests new initiatives.

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