Giving Compass’ Take:
· In America, a majority of responses to homelessness usually serve to manage the problem rather than attempting to end it. Funders Together to End Homelessness discusses the role of philanthropy in the fight against homelessness and explains why affordable housing and supportive services are key to ending the crisis.
· What are some preventative strategies that can be used to fight homelessness? Are housing-based strategies the best solution?
People become homeless when they can’t find housing they can afford. There is a scarcity of affordable housing in the United States, particularly in urban areas where homelessness is more prevalent. But the lack of affordable housing is only part of the picture. Poverty and unemployment usually are factors. And significant mental or physical disability, substance abuse, and severe trauma, such as domestic violence, often play a role as well.
For most people experiencing homelessness, it is a temporary crisis, usually lasting a few weeks. Most turn first to their personal support systems—staying with family or friends, for example—while trying to get back on their feet. But when those social supports fail, people turn to public resources in their community as a last resort. A fraction of people become “chronically homeless,” which means they develop a long history of repeated homelessness and often struggle with a serious disability. People identified as chronically homeless are more reliant on public resources for emergency shelter and other crisis care.
Homelessness, temporary or otherwise, touches everyone—children and youth, people with diplomas and degrees, people with jobs and careers, people with immediate and extended families. This diversity presents a challenge to defining the size and scope of the problem of homelessness, but many communities now use point-in-time counts to gain a clearer understanding of homelessness.
A point-in-time count is an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness, including both sheltered and unsheltered populations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities receiving certain federal homelessness assistance funds to conduct point-in-time counts every other year, but many communities do them annually. As part of the counting process, communities must identify each person counted as an individual, a member of a family unit, or an unaccompanied youth under the age of 18. In addition, communities must identify if a person is chronically homeless, indicating long-term or repeated homelessness and the presence of a disability.
Read the full article about ending homelessness at Funders Together to End Homelessness.
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