• Jennifer Rich

The Road Just Forked in Our Efforts to End Homelessness. It’s Time to Decide Who We Want to Be.

By Jennifer Rich and Lindsay Knotts

Envision with us an America where everyone has a safe place to go to regroup from the stress of the day. To laugh over a shared meal, to study for exams, to take medications, to exercise, to get a good night's sleep. To be well. How would that nation feel? Strong? Vibrant? Caring? Alive with the potential of all its citizens? Ready for the future?

A more just future is ahead of us, if we choose it. The solutions to homelessness aren't hard. As we have done in decades past, we need to decide as a nation to invest in housing. And we need to decide to invest in the wellbeing of our people. Those are human choices. And they are also policy choices. Choices at the voting booth to pick leaders from city council to mayor to Congress and the White House who recognize that we are stronger and healthier as a nation when everyone has a home.

Unless we act now, that future is in danger. This week, opportunists and ideologues in the Trump Administration released a new and deeply cynical federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. That document upends years of established research into what works to end homelessness in an attempt to funnel taxpayer money to programs that don't. Programs that, until recently, paid their salaries, and will probably pay their salaries again once this Administration is over. If allowed to happen, such a reversal would do long-lasting damage to the decade of progress that has already been made and stifle the urgency and innovation that we’ve seen in communities across America these last nine months in response to COVID-19.

This is not partisan politics. Both Republicans and Democrats across the country -- including in Congress, and in state houses, and mayor’s offices -- have called on this Administration to stick to the evidence and be good stewards of public resources. There is broad agreement that we as a country need to invest in more housing, make rents more affordable and wages more livable, and reimagine and rebuild the web of supports that people used to be able to count on when times got tough.