Ten years ago, as a former federal employee, I had the opportunity to be a part of building the case for wide-scale adoption of Housing First across the federal government and as the prevailing practice in homelessness response systems. We followed the evidence that showed that even for people with the most complex service needs, more than 80 percent were still housed after a year when assisted with a Housing First approach.

This shift provided real impact. From 2007 to 2016, the total number of people experiencing homelessness decreased by 17 percent, with even more astounding results when looking at specific subpopulations. From 2010 to 2016, family homelessness decreased by 23 percent, veteran homelessness decreased by 47 percent, and chronic homelessness decreased by 27 percent.

During this time, homelessness systems were more efficient and capable of housing more people – and more rapidly than ever before. These changes happened because of increased bipartisan investment in housing resources, combined with the concerted efforts of the federal government, national partners, and local homelessness response systems.

So, what changed?

The data shows that despite successful efforts to increase housing placements from homelessness, particularly among veterans, underinvestment in deeply affordable housing and severely underfunded programs have led to inequitable access to opportunity. More recently, the number of people becoming homeless each year is increasingly equal to or greater than the number of people being housed. This has resulted in an alarmingly number of individuals and families becoming homeless year after year, which is especially true for historically marginalized groups.

Read the full article about housing first by Marcy Thompson at National Alliance to End Homelessness.