NPR recently posted a piece about Los Angeles’s Home For Good project, an initiative of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. The project aims to end chronic homelessness in Los Angeles by 2016.
There are varying opinions as to what makes one “chronically homeless,” but the Federal government’s definition defines a chronically homeless individual as the following: “either (1) an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, OR (2) an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who has had at least four episodes of homelesness in the past three years.”
The aim of the initiative is to identify those most in need of assistance and place them in housing as soon as possible. The Home For good website claims that the initiative “will create access to 12,500 units of permanent supportive housing to house every chronically homeless person.” The organization has also switched to a “housing first” model, based on research that this is economically advantageous as it keeps homeless individuals out of hospitals, jails and shelters, NPR claims.
Home For Good also plans to assist homeless U.S. military veterans, regardless of their level of homelessness. The program calls for “6,000 units of affordable or supportive housing to house every non-chronically homeless veteran,” or around have of the units promised to the chronically homeless.
Although the program may be ambitious in claiming that it can solve homelessness by 2016 simply by identifying the chronically homeless and placing them in housing, it's a respectable effort to solve a problem that has affected many individuals in Los Angeles and the United States in general for years.
Some, however, view Home For Good as a simple-minded approach to the complex issue of chronic homelessness, as many chronically homeless individuals have addictions, mental health or family issues that simply obtaining a housing unit cannot solve. “It takes all strategies to end homelessness, not just one simple silver bullet,” Skid Row Union Rescue Mission CEO Andy Bales told NPR.