What is a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness?
The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Bush Administration endorsed the idea of planning to end chronic homelessness in ten years, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) challenged 100 cities to create plans to end homelessness. The momentum built across the country—to date, over 300 communities have undertaken efforts to end homelessness and over 180 communities have completed plans to end homelessness.
A majority (66 percent) of the community plans to end homelessness target all homeless people and 34 percent focus on chronically homeless people. Many plans lay out strategies for specific subgroups of homeless people, including families, youth, veterans, and the elderly. Forty-one percent of plans outline strategies to end family homelessness, 49 percent outline efforts to end youth homelessness, and 31 percent of plans address the housing needs of former prisoners in order to prevent them from becoming homeless. Planning efforts to end homelessness have taken root across the country—geographically distributed, but concentrated in population centers. A wide range of stakeholders were involved in the community planning process, with the strongest representation from the nonprofit sector and the weakest representation from the private sector. Although some plans (28 percent) involve currently or formerly homeless people, their participation in the development of plans is lower than that of other stakeholders.
Communities outlined a wide range of strategies in the plans:
- Creating Data Systems. Almost all of the plans (91 percent) outline strategies to create Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).
- Homelessness Prevention. An overwhelming majority of the plans (79 percent) address emergency prevention (e.g., one-time rental or utility assistance, help negotiating an eviction with a landlord, etc.), and 91 percent of the plans outline systems prevention activities, such as discharge planning from correctional facilities, foster care systems, or mental health facilities.
- Outreach. Outreach efforts to engage people living on the streets are outlined in 79 percent of the plans.
- Shortening Time of Homelessness. Shortening the time that people spend homeless by providing permanent housing to homeless people is included in 67 percent of the plans; 57 percent call for rapid re-housing. In total, the plans call for creating approximately 196,000 units (or subsidies), of which 80,000 units are permanent supportive housing.
- Links to Services. Once individuals or families are in housing, 81 percent of the plans outline strategies to link them with mainstream services so they can earn enough money to pay rent and avoid homelessness.
Kentucky’s Ten-Year Plan
In 2005, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness issued a national call to end homelessness. In response, KHC and KICH came together to develop Kentucky’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness
. The plan was proactive and proposed not to manage homelessness but to end it by addressing barriers and root causes. The plan was compiled with public input from 12 community forums held across the state.
In December 2009, Governor Beshear announced his support for Kentucky’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness
: Update 2009. Reflected in the update is the increase and severity of economic challenges since the plan’s origination. Of special note has been the impact of Kentuckians living precariously housed, referring to those who are doubled- or tripled-up with family or friends, living in substandard housing or expecting eviction within one week. It is this population that is likely to become homeless in the near future. The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness: Update 2009 also includes progress-to-date reports of several programs administered by Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC).
In 2012 another update was made to the Ten-Year Plan. It provided revised goals as well as a listing of progress made. It also had a new title - Steps Toward Ending Homelessness
Developing a Local Ten-Year Plan
Kentucky Housing Corporation recognizes the devastating emotional and financial impacts of homelessness throughout the state and is committed to providing support to communities seeking to address this issue. The state plan is a great starting point, but much more can be accomplished if Kentucky communities develop their own localized ten-year plans.
If you are questioning the need for a ten-year plan in your community, consider the following:
- Reducing homelessness will improve the quality of life for everyone in your community and free up resources for other programs and initiatives.
- Studies in several U.S. cities have shown that the chronically homeless impose an enormous financial burden on the community. When the costs of recurring hospital emergency room visits and jail time are totaled, communities are finding an expense of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to provide services to just one chronically homeless person. Even worse, the people using these resources are usually no better off at the end of that year than they were at the beginning.
- New initiatives and practices are being developed on a nationwide level to end chronic homelessness. By working together, communities can share their successes and failures and adjust their plans accordingly.
During a summit, Kentucky mayors and local officials discussed the importance of localized plans and emphasized the importance of adopting new methods that address the root causes of homelessness. Previous methods of “shuffling” the chronic homeless between jails, homeless shelters, emergency rooms and other resources have been proven to be ineffective and quite expensive.
Tips for Developing a Plan
- Identify and communicate with stakeholders, such as local officials, business leaders, law enforcement agencies, hospital administrators, faith-based organizations, homeless service providers and individuals experiencing homelessness.
- Form a work group to develop the plan. Members of the group should have the authority to make funding decisions, have relevant expertise and be committed to the goal.
- Gather research and data and define your community’s homeless problems. This will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your plan.
- Create an action plan to implement proposed strategies. This plan should include specific activities and parties responsible for them, costs and funding sources, timelines and performance measures. Feel free to borrow ideas from other communities and find out what has worked for their plans.
- Implement the plan and track the progress. Your plan should also remain flexible so that you can adjust your strategies according to the results you are seeing.
For more tips and ideas, read the step-by-step guide listed below. For more information about developing a ten-year plan, contact Kentucky Housing’s Davey King, director of Specialized Housing Resources, at (800) 633-8896 or (502) 564-7630, ext. 412; TTY 711; or firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Resources