For many, homelessness is defined by what is seen on the streets – individual adults struggling with mental illness and/or long-term substance abuse and panhandlers. While these individuals are very visible, there are millions of invisible homeless people who stay in cars, in hotels, on other people’s couches or floors, and in other arrangements.
Most homelessness assistance policy and programming is shaped and funded at the federal level. Because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the largest funder of homelessness assistance and drives policy at the state, regional, and local levels, significant change to HUD policy through legislation is needed.
Many programs have lost funding because they have fallen out of favor with their local Continuums of Care, because their programs offer services that go beyond housing only, and because the populations they serve are not prioritized by HUD.
Currently, HUD's homelessness policy focuses on a "one size fits all" solution including "Housing First" that primarily benefits chronically homeless individuals, NOT families. Most families need intensive support services including case management and employment assistance that focus on building income and developing financial literacy skills. Children need an array of assistance designed to address the trauma of homelessness and poverty in an effort to break the cycle of generational homelessness. Learn more about what works and what doesn't--and why.