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Take Five! Q & A with Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Expert Q & A | September 12, 2008
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
Housing First programs focus on very quickly placing families who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, into permanent, affordable housing with the intensive, supportive services that are necessary for these families to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. This doesn't mean that communities no longer need temporary, emergency shelters, or longer-term transitional housing with services, but the more we can help stabilize families by ensuring that they get and stay in a house and receive the support they need, the better the family does and the more likely we are to defeat homelessness. The early returns for this model appear to be very positive. It's an approach that holds promise, and it relies heavily on providing supportive services for families that have been rapidly re-housed in permanent, affordable units.
What issue in homelessness policy should everyone be reminded of?
It’s also important to remember that bricks and mortar alone do not guarantee the survival, stability, and ultimately the long-term wellbeing of vulnerable families. This is why the focus on resident services is so important. Access to job training, various counseling services, evidence-based, effective after-school programs for children at risk, financial literacy, asset building, and wellness programs need to be part of our affordable housing offerings if we're going to meaningfully change the socio-economic trajectory of vulnerable families. Without these supportive services, we risk financial stress for families, which ultimately diminishes the overall quality of life throughout our communities.
How did you start working in the field of homelessness (or housing)?
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Now I am in a very fortunate place. Having the opportunity to lead at Freddie Mac and the Freddie Mac Foundation is a daily source of inspiration, opportunity, and challenge. At organizations with such strong missions and such a focus on good citizenship, you can’t help but want to make the biggest difference possible. And through my role, I have had the chance to get to know the nonprofits that receive support from Freddie Mac and the Freddie Mac Foundation, as well as the families, children, and young people who benefit —and in some instances are saved – by the critical services provided by those nonprofits. I have the honor of meeting these people and learning their amazing stories daily, and at the end of the day that is what really energizes and sustains me.
Why do you think ending homelessness is possible?