Fifth Dimension

I’m Serious!!

Homelessness in the United States: Policies, Laws, Legislations

Posted by fifthdimension on May 27, 2007

American government at all levels was active in the homeless arena during the 1980s and 1990s. In the mid-1980s, state and local governments greatly increased their commitments to homeless services. HUD’s 1988 study, collecting data in the first quarter of 1988, before anything but a trickle of federal money was actually in use, found that the total dollars committed to shelter services in the
United States had climbed to $1.6 billion, from $300 million in 1984.  (Martha R. Burt, Laudan Y. Aron, Helping
America‘s Homeless, Chapter I)
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this is a period when worst-case housing needs are at an all-time high. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has developed a 10-year plan to end homelessness. For most of the past two decades, public and private solutions to homelessness have focused on providing homeless families with emergency shelter and/or transitional housing. While such programs may provide vital access to services for families in crisis, they often fail to address the long-term needs of homeless families.

Housing First Methodology 

“Housing First” is an alternative to the current system of emergency shelter/transitional housing, which tends to prolong the length of time that families remain homeless. The methodology is based on the belief that vulnerable and at-risk homeless families are more responsive to interventions and social services support after they are in their own housing, rather than while living in temporary/transitional facilities, or housing programs. With permanent housing, these families can begin to regain the self-confidence and control over their lives.

For over 10 years, the housing first methodology has proven to be a practical means to ending and preventing family homelessness. The methodology is currently being adapted by organizations throughout the
United States through Beyond Shelter’s Institute for Research, Training and Technical Assistance and the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ Housing First Network

Identified as a novel response to the problem of family homelessness, the housing first approach stresses the immediate return of families to independent living. This methodology:

·         Helps homeless families move directly into affordable rental housing in residential neighborhoods as quickly as possible;

·         Then provides six months to one year of individualized, home-based social services support “after the move” to help each family transition to stability.

The housing first approach provides a link between the emergency shelter/transitional housing systems that serve homeless families and the mainstream resources and services that can help them rebuild their lives in permanent housing, as members of a neighborhood and a community. In addition to assisting homeless families in general back into housing, the approach can offer an individualized and structured plan of action for alienated, dysfunctional and troubled families, while providing a responsive and caring support system.


The combined effort of housing relocation services and home-based case management enables homeless families to break the cycle of homelessness. The methodology facilitates long-term stability and provides earlier homeless families who are considered at risk of another episode of homelessness with the support necessary to remain in permanent housing.

The Housing First Approach is implemented through four primary stages: 

  • Crisis Intervention & Short-Term Stabilization
  • Screening, Intake and Needs Assessment 
  •  Provision of Housing Resources
  • Provision of Case Management

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: