Federal Plan to End Homelessness: Important Step, Lacks Specifics
Press Type: Press Release Associated Program: Housing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2010
Federal Plan to End Homelessness Important Step, Lacks Specifics
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A year after the passage of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which mandated the creation of a federal plan to end homelessness, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released the plan to Congress and the public this morning at the White House.
Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is the Obama Administration's official policy position on homelessness. The plan has been shaped by the recommendations of state and regional interagency councils on homelessness, national and local advocacy groups, direct service providers, homeless people, and the general public.
It articulates four major 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 all families, youth and children in 10 years, and 4) set a path toward ending all types of homelessness.
The plan outlines 10 objectives and 52 strategies to accomplish these goals, and it provides an extensive overview of issues of homelessness and all of the subpopulations who experience it. It comes at a critical time as family homelessness is rising dramatically, and the economic and foreclosure crises direct the nation's attention to these issues.
Maria Foscarinis is the executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, whose advocacy helped lead to the passage of the law requiring the plan. She said, "The federal plan is notable for its truly compelling and accurate description of the crisis of homelessness in America, and the solutions; needed to end it; but it is short on the specific commitments needed to actually implement those solutions. For example, though the plan asserts that the National Housing Trust Fund must be funded in order to provide more affordable housing, it does not commit the Administration to requesting any specific level of funding."
The plan lacks any explanation of how its strategies will be funded, outside of President Obama's FY 2011 budget.
Also notably absent from the plan was the human rights language some advocates had hoped to see included. While several international treaties declare housing as a human right, the government has been slow to integrate this concept into U.S. housing policy.
Foscarinis also said, "The Administration's plan is an important policy document and a good first step. But to make a difference in the lives of the millions of homeless Americans, we must turn words into action. To be meaningful, the plan must be create accountability to the basic human right of all Americans to a place to call home."
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty welcomes the opportunity to comment further on the plan.
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