We've made significant progress in our national effort to end chronic homelessness. Since 2010, chronic homelessness has declined 22% nationwide.
But our progress is slowing. There were an estimated 83,170 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness on our streets and in our shelters on a single night in January 2015 — a slim 1% decrease from the previous year.
We must consider this reduced momentum a call to action — not only to the communities that must work harder in identifying, engaging, and prioritizing these vulnerable people in permanent supportive housing, but also to leaders at the federal, state, and local levels who can make the additional investments needed to solve this problem.
The solution to chronic homelessness is an intervention known as permanent supportive housing, which combines affordable housing and a tailored package of supportive services that help people achieve housing stability, get connected to health care and other social services, and improve their health and social outcomes. Study after study has shown that permanent supportive housing not only ends homelessness for people with the most severe challenges, but also reduces the use of emergency services and lowers public costs.
The Interagency Working Group on Ending Chronic Homelessness has developed a strategy to end chronic homelessness in 2017 by increasing the availability of permanent supportive housing, and helping communities engage and more rapidly connect individuals experiencing chronic homelessness to available units. The strategy includes leveraging opportunities to increasing the role of Medicaid in covering housing-related services and behavioral health supports.
This strategy involves five components: