Vowing to provide access to stable housing for veterans and families with young children, the Obama administration released a strategy Tuesday to abolish homelessness among the most vulnerable citizens within a decade.
The White House unveiled "Opening Doors," a "Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness," which combines the leadership resources of Congress, state and local officials, churches, charities and business to end "chronic homelessness by 2015 and among families, youth, and children by 2020."
"As the most far-reaching and ambitious plan to end homelessness in our history, this plan will both strengthen existing programs and forge new partnerships," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement. "No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home and today we unveil a plan that will put our nation on the path toward ending all types of homelessness."
The roadmap, drawn up by the Interagency Council on Homelessness, seeks to:
Increase access to stable and affordable housing by providing affordable housing and permanent supportive housing.
Increase economic security, expand meaningful and sustainable employment and improve access to mainstream programs and services to reduce financial vulnerability to homelessness.
Improve health and stability by linking health care with homeless assistance programs and housing, advancing stability for youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice, and improving discharge planning for people who have frequent contact with hospitals and criminal justice systems.
Retool the homeless response system by transforming homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.
It's the first comprehensive federal effort to end homelessness with a timeline and measureable goals, Nan Roman, the president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told McLatchy.
"To me that's really important, because we know that when the Bush administration made a commitment to end chronic homelessness, it really made a huge difference," Roman said. "It changed how resources were allocated. It caused better coordination, and the result has been that the chronic numbers have gone down. Now they're taking that same approach and they're expanding it to the other homeless populations. I think that's significant."
Last week a government report revealed that nearly 1.6 million people, including more than 170,000 U.S. families, spent time in homeless shelters in 2009, McLatchy reported.
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