To end homelessness in America, we must strengthen our ability to prevent it in the first place. To do that, we must take a multi-sector approach that focuses on housing needs, housing stability, and risks of homelessness across many different public systems.
- Reduce the risk of housing crises. Communities must address the wide range of policies contributing to the availability of, and access to, an adequate supply of safe and affordable housing; health and behavioral health resources; education and meaningful and gainful employment; opportunities for economic mobility; affordable child care; and legal assistance.
- Reduce the risk of homelessness while households are engaged with or are transitioning from systems. Individuals or families are often engaged with multiple public systems, such as health and behavioral health care, child welfare, and the juvenile and criminal justice systems, prior to experiencing homelessness. Those systems must work together to increase awareness of and attentiveness to housing stability, as well as strengthen their transition and/or discharge planning activities that link people to other resources, including employment and other economic mobility supports. Communities can also consider policies that increase access to home-visiting programs, family support networks, school-based supports, and other community-based programs that focus on strong families and positive youth development. Family preservation and reunification can also be explored, whenever safe and appropriate, in order to address the disproportionate impact of homelessness on single mothers and youth of color.
- Target assistance to prevent housing crises that do occur from escalating further and resulting in homelessness. Targeted assistance may include a combination of financial assistance, mediation and diversion, housing location, legal assistance, employment services, or other supports—many of which can be provided by public, non-profit, faith-based, and philanthropic programs within the community. Housing status assessments are important tools for programs to effectively identify the most at-risk households, to connect them to the supportive services and/or resources that will best respond to their housing crisis.