Despite the long-lasting nature of chronic homelessness, the goal to end chronic homelessness has been delayed and chronic homelessness still exists because enough resources have not been provided.
Chronic homelessness remains a major problem in the United States. On a given night in 2014, there were 82,612 individuals and 14,604 persons in families experiencing chronic homelessness in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than half were without shelter with 51,604 individuals and 5,242 persons in families found outdoors or without shelter.
Additional resources are needed to help individuals and persons in families experiencing chronic homelessness. Individuals experiencing chronic homelessness have a disabling condition and have been homeless for at least a year or have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. Transitional housing provides homeless people a place to stay and supportive services before they obtain permanent housing and permanent supportive housing provides housing and supportive services for homeless people who have disabilities. In 2014, on a given night, 27,532 to 32,283 additional transitional housing and permanent supportive housing beds were needed for individuals without shelter experiencing chronic homelessness and 1,579 to 1,942 additional transitional housing and permanent supportive housing beds were needed for persons in families without shelter experiencing chronic homelessness.
In the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, one of the four goals is to end chronic homelessness by 2017. To achieve this goal, an interagency working group led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness developed strategies that included expanding permanent supportive housing opportunities, connecting outreach to permanent supportive housing, lowering barriers to housing entry through adoption of Housing First, and increasing the inventory of permanent supportive housing to a scale sufficient to end chronic homelessness and prevent its recurrence.
Although the supply of permanent supportive housing has increased over the past several years, there is still a shortage of permanent supportive housing due to a shortage of financial resources. The fiscal year 2016 budget was developed from analysis of the specific number of housing units needed to achieve an end to chronic homelessness in 2017. HUD requested $2.48 billion for its Homeless Assistance Grants, $345 million above the 2015 enacted level. In addition to emergency solutions grants and Continuum of Care renewals, the funding would provide approximately $300 million to assist 15,000 families through the rapid rehousing program and develop 25,500 beds of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless persons. During consideration of the continuing resolution to fund the government, Congress should provide the $300 million in additional funding to build the 25,500 units needed to end chronic homelessness.
When there are almost 100,000 individuals and persons in families who are experiencing chronic homelessness and 29,000 to 35,000 of them do not have shelter and are unable to obtain housing, Congress should provide the funding to develop the permanent supportive housing necessary to end chronic homelessness.