Homeward Bound: Hope from the NY Times

It's always nice to read something that makes you feel genuinely hopeful: This New York Times online column on homelessness did just that. Writer David Bornstein discusses the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a program that aims to place 100,000 chronically homeless people into permanent supportive housing by July 2013:

It’s the human welfare equivalent of NASA’s race to put a man on the moon. Whether the goal is achieved or not, the campaign is shifting the way cities address a problem that has often been seen as more of a nuisance than a public health emergency.

The campaign was launched this past July by a New York-based organization called Common Ground and close to 20 organizations that focus on homelessness, veterans’ affairs, mental illness, housing and health care. So far 64 communities have come on board. As of today, 6,816 people have been housed — on track to hit 98,000 by the deadline. But organizers say they are gaining momentum.

I found this particularly interesting:

The shift in mindset that made it possible to solve this problem began in the early 1990s when a group called Pathways to Housing pioneered an approach called “housing first.” Historically, homeless people had to be deemed “housing ready” — typically drug and alcohol free — before they could become eligible for permanent housing. In reality, this screened out most of the chronically homeless. Pathways showed that permanent housing was, in fact, the first thing people needed to stabilize their lives. Today, it has been adopted as government policy.