The Biden administration’s new plan to combat homelessness is focused on preventing people from losing their homes in the first place, NPR reports.
The new plan includes a number of ways to boost the supply of affordable housing and increase the number of shelters and support programs.
But the biggest change calls for the “systematic prevention of homelessness,” focusing on keeping people in their homes.
The plan aims to reduce the number of homeless people by 25% by 2025.
"We've gotten very, very good at providing supportive housing for people," Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which developed the plan, told NPR. "We've not done a great job as a nation of turning off the faucet."
Homelessness stabilizes after pandemic:
The number of homeless people rose for years since 2016 but has stabilized this year, according to NPR.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were about 582,000 homeless people on any given night in January.
Over the course of the year, more than a million individuals and families were without housing at some point.
Advocates credited congressional aid for preventing an even larger spike in homelessness but the aid has largely dried up and the rates for single adults and those with disabilities are on the rise.
"Where we invest, we see success," Olivet says. "Where we don't invest, that's where we see the numbers rising."
Focus on prevention:
Advocate Paul Downey told NPR that focusing on prevention is the “obvious thing.”
Downey found that a majority of seniors he works with said just a few hundred dollars per month could keep them off the street. San Diego launched a pilot program to offer up to $500 per month in subsidies to at-risk seniors.
Downey said that’s a bargain compared to the $35,000 per month homeless people cost taxpayers in police and first responder costs, criminal justice measures and emergency room visits.
"It looks like a good economic solution in addition to, of course, being a good human solution," he said.