According to a new report released just last week by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of long-term (what is known as chronic) homeless individuals has dropped again (between 2013 and 2014). That's really good news.
In fact, since 2005 the number of individuals in the U.S. experiencing long-term homelessness has been cut almost in half.
As I've noted before, this stark decrease is attributable in part to truly bipartisan efforts in Congress and through several presidential administrations to invest in supportive housing, a seamless fusion of subsidized affordable housing with comprehensive services that help residents address health care, mental health issues, substance use and barriers to employment, enabling them to move beyond the challenges that can contribute to homelessness.
Not only is supportive housing a game changer when it comes to individual success, it is a more cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars.
Inexplicably, however, the federal programs used to bolster supportive housing and save money are in a state of limbo, placing at risk the gains we have realized to date. Congress has not yet agreed on a HUD spending bill for this fiscal year and some of our elected officials are suggesting cuts to the very initiatives that are proving successful.
This is an issue that affects all states and communities, not just the more urbanized ones.
When Congress returns from their Election Day break, Republicans and Democrats should continue their cooperation on this issue and focus on passing a FY2015 HUD spending bill that restores lost housing vouchers and allows for new investments in supportive housing.
We must have additional commitments to supportive housing to maximize the promising trend in reducing homelessness across all populations, including, families, children, veterans and the elderly.
Please join us now in writing, emailing, tweeting, calling or visiting your US Senator and Congressperson to urge increased funding for HUD's critical programs so that supportive housing can continue to be a cost-effective solution ending homelessness.