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Message from the President
|Alliance president Nan Roman offers her perspective on homelessness.|
In many ways, 2011 was a trying year. The reverberations of the 2008 economic crisis continued to shake us.
The economy rebounded for some, but among people living in poverty unemployment was high and income growth flat. In many communities the funding provided by the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – which had aided so many to withstand the economy -- ran out.
The $1.5 billion in federal HPRP funding was instrumental in keeping hundreds of thousands of people from falling into homelessness. Indeed, between 2009 and 2011 overall homelessness declined by 1 percent and chronic homelessness declined by 3 percent. While not the level of reduction we want, those are not insignificant achievements in the midst of the recovery from such a dramatic economic downturn.
But clearly we are not out of the woods yet. If we cannot sustain and improve upon this success, the Alliance expects homelessness to increase a minimum of 5 percent over the next few years, based on increases in deep poverty. Already, nearly 40 million U.S. renter households are severely housing cost burdened, meaning they spend 50 percent or more of their monthly income on housing.
Since the Alliance’s inception, we have worked hard to produce the latest research and guidance on the best responses in policy and practice. Each year we work with practitioners, officials and other stakeholders to create new partnerships, implement promising innovations, and increase the adoption of proven interventions. In these ways we hope to change and improve our approach to homelessness, and move toward a solution to the problem.
A solution is our goal, because, in our view, things as they are now are not acceptable. The reality that almost 700,000 people go homeless every night – among them the elderly, people with mental illness, teenagers, children, and veterans – is inexcusable in a country with the wealth and resources of ours.
That is why we will continue to generate new tools and new research for advocates and policymakers, and continue to push for the allocation of federal resources for evidence-based, cost-effective solutions like HPRP. The question is not whether we have the resources to put an end to homelessness; the question is whether we have the will. I believe that your continued support shows we do.
We at the Alliance are not giving up, and we hope that you will not either.