Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness. Additional Changes to the Plan

03/01/2007

While the two major revisions discussed in detail above represent the most substantial changes to the plan, other smaller, yet significant changes have been made within the revised goals and strategies of the 2007 Plan.  These changes address the following issues:

  • At-Risk Individuals and Primary Prevention
  • Federal Agency Collaboration
  • Policy Academy Follow-up
  • Disasters

In addition to broadening the plan to address homelessness experienced by families with children, the new plan also incorporates populations who are at-risk of homelessness.  Vulnerable groups who may be at-risk of homelessness include individuals with disabilities, immigrants, persons leaving institutions (e.g., incarceration- including juvenile detention facilities, inpatient care for psychiatric or chronic medical conditions), youth aging out of foster care, frail elderly, persons experiencing abuse, and disaster victims.  By including the at-risk population in the Plan, the Department is acknowledging those who may be on the verge of becoming homeless and who could become the next generation of chronically homeless individuals.  Specifically, Strategy 3.1 in the new plan highlights the importance of identifying risk and protective factors to prevent episodes of homelessness for at-risk populations.  This new strategy was added to the Plan to emphasize the importance of preventing first-time homelessness for at-risk populations (i.e. primary prevention).  The inclusion of at-risk populations further acknowledges that effectively preventing chronic homelessness requires the two-pronged strategy of ending the homeless cycle for those who are already homeless, and the prevention of new episodes of homelessness for those who are currently housed, but who are at risk of becoming homeless. 

The plan also contains new language and specific strategies about federal agency collaboration to encourage intradepartmental and interdepartmental coordination and collaboration across the federal government.  Federal collaboration was included in Goal 4 as a specific strategy for data activities, but a separate strategy was added to Goal 1 in order to encourage federal partnership across all Departmental activities related to homelessness.  Strategy 1.6 reads as follows: Explore opportunities with federal partners to develop joint initiatives related to homelessness and improve communication on programmatic goals, policies, and issues related to homelessness.

Strategies in the plan were also revised to reflect the second phase of the Homeless Policy Academies.  This Policy Academy follow-up includes providing technical assistance to the states and territories around effective implementation of their Action Plans and sustaining their momentum in addressing homelessness in their respective states and territories.  In general, the strategies under Goal 2 (to empower our state and community partners to improve their response to individuals and families experiencing homelessness) are related to this second phase of the Homeless Policy Academies.

Finally, disasters are considered as an issue relevant to homelessness, given the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the consequences to those who lost their homes and those who already were homeless before the catastrophe.  To this end, a new strategy in the Plan specifically refers to working with state, local and tribal organizations around policies pertaining to homelessness, including addressing homelessness as a result of disasters, the needs of homeless persons before/during/and after a disaster, and ways to assist the new population of temporarily homeless persons due to a disaster.

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