Faith - and Communtity-Based Partnerships
to End Homelessness
PREPARED REMARKS FOR
SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
“FAITH- AND COMMUNITY-BASED PARTNERSHIPS
TO END HOMELESSNESS”
“COMPASSION IN ACTION” ROUNDTABLE
EISENHOWER EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2007
Thank you for that kind introduction, Jedd [Medefind]…..
Mother Teresa said that poverty is not “only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared-for is the greatest poverty.”
Thank you for caring about Americans who find themselves without a home, but never without hope—because of your great work.
The President has set a worthy goal: to end chronic homelessness and move homeless families and individuals into permanent housing.
These roundtable discussions will enhance our ability to meet this goal. And they will better equip the “Armies of Compassion” to serve those who need life’s basic necessities.
Shelter is one of the most important. But providing a roof over one’s head is not enough. The people in this room know that lesson well.
You are helping to ensure that homeless Americans are safe, that they have access to services such as medical and mental health treatment, and that they know about the many resources available to them.
You are helping homeless persons learn skills that can lead to better employment and greater independence.
You are working to kick drug and alcohol habits that can overtake a soul, and replacing them with a more powerful force.
Whatever your role, together, we are sending the message that homelessness is a challenge that can be solved.
You have not shrugged your shoulders, but shouldered the load. And you’ve set a fine example for all Americans.
I appreciate the positive role that government can play.
Twenty years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act into law. It provided urgently needed food, health care, and housing—services that were not always readily available in communities.
In 1994, HUD added another vital piece: a “Continuum of Care” strategy to provide local coordination so we could identify gaps in services and fill them with your help.
This year alone, HUD’s Continuum of Care programs are helping an estimated 315,000 persons per year receive housing and support services.
Nearly 150,000 formerly homeless persons with disabilities are currently living in a permanent supportive environment.
I’m also proud of the fact that 86 percent more people are employed when they leave our projects than when they arrived. We are “Unlocking Doors” for all Americans!
You deserve much of the credit. You know how important it is that people not just get by for one more day, but see clearly to a brighter day.
When non-profits and faith-based providers join forces with local political leaders, the result is powerful change in the way homeless families and individuals are served.
HUD awarded $258 million to faith-based organizations last year. No other federal agency comes close.
Non-profit and faith-based groups make up nearly two-thirds of HUD’s Continuum of Care grantees. Faith-based programs funded by HUD have served more than 120,000 homeless individuals and family members.
We know that government, no matter how well-intentioned or well-funded, cannot do it alone. And we appreciate that your faith in God is matched by faith in your fellow man.
Funding for homelessness has increased every year since 2002. Since 2001, HUD has awarded more than $9 billion to support thousands of local housing and service programs throughout the nation.
We are seeking a record $1.6 billion in FY 2008. But we’re concerned less with inputs than outcomes.
We’re working to reduce the time between when grants are requested and dollars are allocated.
Of course, this is a two-way street. We also want states, cities and communities to use federal funds promptly, or report back the reasons why the pool remains untapped.
We also need you to identify new ways to solve old problems. When something works, we should spread the word.
I want to thank the city leaders and Continuum of Care experts who have their own innovative answers to homelessness.
One example is Los Angeles, where the LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative has helped cut the number of people dying on Skid Row by more than half.
Or Denver, where the number of chronically homeless has fallen dramatically since 2005, according to one survey.
Dozens of Continuum of Care communities have reported decreases in the number of chronically homeless persons. This is good news.
To end homelessness, we must better understand it and measure it.
Earlier this year, HUD released the first Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. It is our state-of-the-art attempt to measure homelessness over time.
It found that about 750,000 persons are living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and on the streets on any given night. Of this, about one-fourth can be called chronically homeless.
The Count will be a tremendous help to community leaders and state and local policymakers—not to mention our friends on Capitol Hill, who have some good ideas of their own.
Whatever the solution, I think we all can agree with the President’s goal. I am happy to report that 95 percent of cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors have now developed plans to end the tragedy of chronic homelessness.
As we go forward, we must remember that homelessness is not just a problem itself—
but a symptom of larger problems.
Therefore, we cannot just adopt a “one-and-done” strategy. Our commitment must be comprehensive. And it must be for the long haul.
The homeless are not some faceless “other.” They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers—and, but for the grace of God, they could be us.
Before we can solve the problem, we must put a face to the problem. And we must open our hearts to the people we’re trying to help. That is what you have all done so well.
I want to thank you for your good work, and I pledge my Department’s support now and in the future.