Obama’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness

By Melissa Howard

On June 22, President Obama released his plan to end homelessness.  As we know, with economy as it is there has been a rise in homelessness. There are more men, women and children that are expecting homelessness or are homeless since the depression.

In the last five years, public and private sectors have made remarkable difference in reducing homelessness by merging permanent housing and wrap around support services. The vision is that “no one should experience homelessness no one should be without a safe stable place to call home.”

The Plan is focused on four key goals:

1) Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in five years;

2) Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years;

3) Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth and children in ten years

4) Set a path to ending all types of homelessness.

Having stable housing is the key for helping people rebuild their lives once again. Researchers did a study on housing stability as part for the success of children and youth in school. When a child has a stable home, they’re more likely to succeed socially, emotionally and academically.

This Plan will achieve the goal of ending homelessness, providing stable and permanent housing for the 640,000+ men, women and children that may be on the street on any giving day in the US.

The Affordable Care Act will further the Plan’s goals by helping the many families and individuals that are experiencing homelessness to be able to get health care they may need. Medicaid will be expanded to individual under 65, with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (which is at about $15,000 for a single person). The expansion will provide more families and adults with no children to enroll in Medicaid in 2014.

Health reform will support demonstrations to improve the ability of psychiatric facilities to provide emergency services. They will also expand the ability of medical homes for individuals with chronic conditions, including severe and persistent mental illness.

Expanding Community Health Centers would serve many vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The Plan calls for strategies for the federal government to work in partnership with state and local governments and also with private sectors, to employ cost effective, comprehensive, solutions to end homelessness. The federal government’s partners, on the local level, have already made great achievements with communities across the nation–including over 1000 mayors and county executives across the country–having developed plans to end homelessness. The Plan highlights that working with all levels of government, the nation can utilize public resources and build on the changes that have been demonstrated at the local level and in cities nationwide to provide for everyone and to give them the opportunity to regain their independents once again.

The Plan calls for an essential shift in how the federal government and communities across the country respond to homelessness. Targeted programs must be fully integrated with mainstream programs that provide housing, health, education and human services. The Plan calls on all relevant mainstream programs to prioritize housing stability for people experiencing or in risk of homelessness.

Senator Jack Reed applauded President Obama’s report, calling it, “a comprehensive action plan.”  “The Obama administration’s level of engagement on this issue from top down has been unprecedented; we need greater inter-agency coordination to prevent Americans from falling through the cracks and becoming homeless. We must ensure that innovative, local homelessness prevention programs have the support they need,” Senator Reed said in a news release after a White House meeting.

With the loss of jobs and foreclosures, homelessness has risen by more than 50 percent over last year. The shelters are over flowing rapidly, at alarming rates. This Plan can help many people regain their independence and confidence they need to start over.

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