Ed Cabrera is a Regional Coordinator with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
A year ago, a taskforce of business and community leaders came together and issued Home for Good. Its goal, as noted on the first page is “not simply to put an end to someone’s life on the streets,” but to “provide homes as a means to an individual’s vital integration into our communities.” A home is more than a house: it’s a place where lives are rebuilt and stability is found for good.
Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is rooted in a similar vision - that no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home - and calls for permanent, collaborative solutions to homelessness in our nation’s cities. In both plans there is a strong recognition that permanent housing provides an essential platform for people to improve their economic security, health and well-being when coordinated with the appropriate level of services.
Over the course of just one year, Home for Good has emerged as a catalyst for change in Los Angeles. Building on and working with other local efforts, LA is making progress to improve collaboration among community partners, use data to guide decision making and more strategically target resources.
Home for Good and USICH modeled this type of collaboration substantively in the Collaborative Leadership Summit in April. There, government, nonprofit and private sectors leaders convened to discuss system-wide changes and recommendations that utilize targeted and mainstream resources to reach the goals in Home for Good.
To sustain progress in the coming year, we urge you to push forward in these key areas:
- Continue measuring results: Report on progress toward your goals for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people and Veterans. Report on how well homeless programs help their clients access mainstream resources and regain health. Use Homelessness Management Information System data to drive implementation.
- Implement strategic solutions broadly, including collaboration with:
- VA Medical Centers and housing authorities to administer HUD-VASH, especially targeting chronic, unsheltered Veterans.
- County public health leaders to seize the opportunity created by health reform to enroll individuals into Medicaid and access community health centers.
- Philanthropy and public systems to create a joint funding approach and pipeline of permanent supportive housing sufficient to meet your plan’s goals.
- Outreach, shelter, and housing providers working with public systems to prioritize chronic, unsheltered individuals and families for permanent supportive housing.
- Service providers and government to transform the crisis response system of emergency and transitional housing to one focused on coordinated intake, alternatives to shelter whenever possible, rapid re-housing and housing retention.
In the months and years ahead, USICH looks forward to LA partners continuing and furthering these strategies.
One of the best ways to make progress is to have a strong State Interagency Council on Homelessness. This enables further collaboration and top-down commitment to preventing and ending homelessness, while marshalling resources that one county could not access on its own. With 1 in 5 homeless Americans a Californian, this is an issue that deserves greater statewide attention.
We have accomplished much together and in such a short time. USICH looks forward to working alongside LA leaders to fully implement Home for Good to end the homelessness of your most vulnerable populations. Home for Good was not the first plan to aim to end it in LA, but it has great potential to be the last. In the coming year, I will continue to do all I can, for as long as I can, to assure that it is.
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