Ten Essentials

The Ten Essentials is a guide to help communities identify effective permanent solutions to homelessness. Supported by research and grounded in practical experience, the Ten Essentials serve as a blueprint for communities to follow.

In order to effectively approach homelessness, a community needs a clear, deliberate, and comprehensive strategy. In The Ten Essentials, the Alliance outlines the ten components necessary in a successful plan to end homelessness. The Ten Essentials covers the most important strategies for success: prevention, re-housing options, access to housing and services, and efficient use of data, among others.

     
  • Plan
    Devise a plan of action. The Alliance’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness is a good place to start – a comprehensive, systematic approach to addressing the different facets of homelessness. While planning, it is important to have representatives and input from all the groups affected by this social issue: government officials, business leaders, community activists, and the like. Every solution starts with a plan.
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  • Data
    Before moving forward, it’s imperative to fully understand the problem. With homelessness, that can be a tall order, as the social problem is influenced by the economy, geography, transportation, and a host of other elements. Luckily, most communities conduct a biannual point in time census and have a Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS), required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HMIS collects data about those who interact with the homeless assistance system, and this information can be helpful in understanding the homeless population better and addressing their specific needs.
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  • Emergency Prevention
    As with most things, the most economical and efficient way to end homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Consider enacting programs and policies that will do just that. Many existing social programs connect vulnerable populations with emergency services, temporary cash assistance, and case management. Consider ways to integrate with these existing systems or adopt your own.
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  • Systems Prevention
    Many people who fall into homelessness do so after release from state-run institutions, including jail and the foster care system. Still others come to homelessness from mental health programs and other medical care facilities. By creating a clear path to housing from those institutions—in the form of case management, access to services, or housing assistance programs—we can reduce the role that state-run institutions play in creating homelessness.
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  • Outreach
    An important role in ending homelessness is outreach to people experiencing homelessness. A key ingredient to this outreach is the ability to connect the homeless population to housing and services. When considering outreach efforts, it’s important to understand that many people living on the streets exhibit mental illness, substance addiction, and other negative behavior patterns. As such, it’s important to consider low-demand housing that does not mandate sobriety or treatment.
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  • Shorten Homelessness
    A successful homeless assistance program not only works to end homelessness, but minimizes the length of stay in shelter and reduces repeat homeless episodes. In order to do this, assistance programs must align resources to ensure that families and individuals have access to the services necessary to achieve independence as quickly as possible. This often requires immediate access to housing, home-based case management, and incentives embedded into the homeless assistance system to promote these outcomes.
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  • Rapid Re-Housing
    Navigating the housing market, especially on behalf of clients with lower incomes and higher needs, is a difficult task. A successful homeless assistance program has housing staff that help with just that. Housing locators search local housing markets and build relationships with landlords.  Successful program components include incentives to landlords to rent to homeless households, creative uses of housing vouchers and subsidies to help homeless individuals and families afford their rental unit, and links to resources to help clients maintain their housing.
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  • Services
    Services are actually more accessible than they sound – many of them already exist in the community. By and large, homeless individuals can access mainstream programs, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and other existing federal assistance programs. Connecting families and individuals exiting homelessness to these programs is imperative to ensuring their continued independence.
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  • Permanent Housing
    At its root, homelessness is the result of the inability to afford and maintain housing. Remember that any plan to end homelessness must incorporate an investment in creating affordable housing. This includes supportive housing, which is permanent housing coupled with supportive services. This is often used for the chronically homeless population - that is, people experiencing long-term or repeated homelessness who also have mental or physical disabilities.
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  • Income
    In order to maintain housing, people exiting homelessness must have income. Cash assistance programs are available through federal and state government, and career-based employment services can help formerly homeless people build the skills necessary to increase their income. Mainstream services, including the Workforce Investment Act, should be used for this purpose.

Spotlight

Library Resources

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Fact Sheets | November 4, 2010
This resource describes the "point-in-time counts" - the regular count of people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to submit these counts as part of their application for federal homeless assistance funds.
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Fact Sheets | January 2, 2010
In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years. Drawing on research and innovative programs from around the country, the plan outlined key strategies in addressing the issue locally, which cumulatively can address the issue nationally. Since the release of this blueprint, over 300 communities have undertaken efforts to end homelessness and over 180 communities have completed plans to end homelessness.
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Toolkits | July 29, 2009
The Alliance has published this guide to help organizations develop Rapid Re-Housing programs.
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Toolkits | July 29, 2009
The National Alliance to End Homelessness has published this guide and companion to help organizations create a homelessness prevention program or improve an existing prevention program.
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Toolkits | August 10, 2006
This toolkit provides a brief overview of the ten essentials strategies for ending youth homelessness in your community.