Even amid its budget cuts, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) showed a heartening commitment to the fight to end homelessness when it announced it had awarded a record $2 billion to homeless assistance programs across the nation.
Awarded under HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) program, the grants provide support to 7,300 local programs that aid individuals and families experiencing homelessness, especially those who are living in places not meant for habitation, are located in sheltering programs or are at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The CoC program seeks to rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing trauma and dislocation and optimizing self-sufficiency.
The grant announcement came on the heels of the release of HUD’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, which showed – for the first time in seven years – a year-over-year increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness. On a single night in January 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness, an increase of .7 percent from one year earlier.
“HUD stands with our local partners who are working each and every day to house and serve our most vulnerable neighbors,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a press release. “We know how to end homelessness and it starts with embracing a housing-first approach that relies upon proven strategies that offer permanent housing solutions to those who may otherwise be living in our shelters and on our streets.”
HUD’s grants and its commitment to ending homelessness are commendable, but this social issue is complex and requires more than just government aid. For homelessness to truly end in this country, it’s crucial for America’s private sector to engage on the issue and become involved in the fight.
Ending homelessness will require innovation and nimbleness, two qualities that the private sector possesses an abundance of. Different types of industries have unique resources to contribute to the fight to end homelessness.
One example of the private sector contributing to the fight can be found in the multifamily industry, which has the ability to take individuals and families off the streets and provide them with both homes and jobs. The nonprofit Shelters to Shutters (S2S) has created partnerships with more than 20 apartment management companies across the nation to place homeless individuals in onsite, entry-level jobs while providing them and their families with housing at the same communities.
Since its founding in 2014, S2S has successfully moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas.
Even though the government is putting forward an immense effort to combat homelessness, the issue is complex and requires the combined energy and ingenuity of the private and public sectors. When the two sectors join forces with nonprofits to create innovative solutions, we can effectively address one of the country’s most multifaceted, widespread problems.