Posted on June 29, 2010
Last week, the federal government unveiled its very first strategic plan to confront the problem of homelessness in the US on an unprecedented scale. The new plan, called Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, identifies four key goals: ending chronic homelessness in five years; preventing and ending homelessness among veterans in five years; preventing and ending family homelessness in ten years; and setting a path to ending all types of homelessness.
Strategic collaboration is the key to the successful accomplishment of these goals. Spearheaded by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the federal plan outlines an ambitious interagency collaboration that involves the active participation of nineteen federal housing, health, education, and human services agencies.
According to the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), the federal plan “provides an excellent framework to guide Virginia’s efforts to align strategies and resources to bring us closer to the day when no Virginian will experience homelessness….The critical component to preventing and ending homelessness…is putting in place a system to prevent homelessness before it occurs and end homelessness as quickly as possible.”
Alice Tousignant, CEO of Virginia Supportive Housing, agrees. “While the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness seems a bit short on specifics, I am very encouraged by the overall effort and am particularly pleased with the Plan’s six Core Values which are right on target. I have made similar statements many times recently. They are:
- Homelessness is unacceptable.
- There are no homeless people; but rather people who have lost their homes and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Homelessness is expensive; it is better to invest in solutions.
- Homelessness is solvable; we have learned a lot about what works.
- Homelessness can be prevented.
- There is strength in collaboration; and USICH [the US Interagency Council on Homelessness] can make a difference.
“As VCEH emphasized, collaboration is critical…Here in the Greater Richmond area, we have Homeward and in South Hampton Roads, there are similar efforts being coordinated by The Planning Council. If all of us as a community embrace these six core values in our approach to prevent and end homelessness, we indeed can make a real difference.”