This year, the National Alliance to End Homelessness' conference looked and felt different: for the first time, it was virtual. Most everyone attended from their offices or homes, and the number of workshops was smaller than previous conferences. As we gear up to meet those challenges and opportunities, here are key takeaways from the conference:  

  • Data and examples from communities support Housing First. After years of attacks on Housing First, this approach and philosophy recognizes that a decent place to live is a basic human right.
  • With the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to quickly get everyone into housing and keep people from entering homelessness. ARPA provides $5 billion in new funding specifically to reduce homelessness, more than $21.5 billion to replenish the emergency rental assistance fund and $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers. 
  • Data helps improve outcomes and address health and racial disparities. Participants expressed that the homelessness system data infrastructure could stand a reboot. Improvements to data will give us the information we need to dismantle long-term, systemic, racist, and unjust policies and practices. 
  • Research demonstrates that when given the right support, people experiencing homelessness want to work. Creating systemic pathways that address the needs of clients and the barriers they face to employment is key. 

Read the full article about conference takeaways by David Dirks at National Alliance to End Homelessness.