Why Has Homelessness Declined?

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 30 2013 @ 5:44pm

Frum passes along some good news:

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that the number of the chronically homeless declined by 30% between 2005 and 2007. You might have expected the numbers to spike again when the financial crisis hit but no. Since 2007, the number of chronic homeless has dropped another 19%.

He gives Bush’s “housing first” program credit:

In 2002, Bush appointed a new national homeless policy czar, Philip Mangano. A former music agent imbued with the religious philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, Mangano was seized by an idea pioneered by New York University psychiatrist Sam Tsemberis: “housing first.” The “housing first” concept urges authorities to concentrate resources on the hardest cases — to move them into housing immediately — and only to worry about the other problems of the homeless after they first have a roof over their heads. A 2004 profile in The Atlantic nicely summarized Tsemberis’ ideas: “Offer them (the homeless) the apartment first, he believes, and you don’t need to spend years, and service dollars, winning their trust.” …

“Housing first” worked. It worked from the start, and it worked fast. It worked so well that the Obama administration has now claimed the approach as its own…