Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a USICH Homelessness Site Visit and Press Conference

Community of Hope's Girard Street Family Shelter, Washington, DC
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thank you all for joining us today.

We're gathered here to mark a historic milestone -- as we announce that the Recovery Act has helped save one million people from homelessness.

That's a million people who won't be forced to sleep on our nation's streets, in their cars or double up at a relative's house. A million people--men, women and children--who can begin their lives again.

And I want to thank the leadership of my colleagues in the Obama Administration and particularly the countless local partners in communities around the country that made it possible. Because of their commitment, we can begin to see a day in which we actually end homelessness in America.

To be sure, this represents an important step forward in that fight.

Countless families have lost their home during this crisis -- either because they lost a job, fell into foreclosure, or for other reasons.

But because of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program--or HPRP, which was created by the Recovery Act--hundreds of thousands of these families been able to find stable housing arrangements quickly and effectively.

Indeed, the latest data shows that fully 94 percent of people assisted by HPRP successfully found permanent housing -- and nearly two out of every three of them were homeless for less than a month.

Not only that, but with more than three out of every four people assisted by the program receiving homelessness prevention services, HPRP also helped people avoid homelessness in the first place.

What that tells us is that, were it not for the Recovery Act, we would have a lot more homeless people living on our streets today.

And that is precisely why this milestone represents an important moment not only in the fight against homelessness -- but also for our ongoing economic recovery.

Instead of cycling from shelter to shelter, having to pull their kids out of school, and figure out where they're going to sleep that night, HPRP ensured those harmed most by this economic crisis had the stability they needed to begin to put their lives back together.

Because of HPRP, these families are spending less time worrying about the present and more time planning for their futures.

And the same goes for the communities where these families live -- who have struggled throughout this crisis with layoffs and budget cuts as needs like homelessness have grown.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors said that HPRP is "fundamentally changing" the way communities respond to homelessness.

They know that by helping to put an end to the revolving door of emergency rooms, shelters and even jail that so many in our homeless population find themselves stuck in, preventing and ending homelessness actually saves money for the taxpayer. They know it's smart government.

And so does the Obama Administration, which is why we've pursued the HUD-VASH partnership that has ended homelessness for nearly 24,000 veterans and unveiled Opening Doors, the first federal strategic plan to end homelessness.

As President Obama said to Congress and the nation last week, when he talked about federal support for the basic research that led to the Internet and computer chip and the millions of returning heroes who had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill:

When we act as one nation, and one people--pushing ourselves to innovate and try every new idea that works, no matter whose idea it is or where it comes from--there's no challenge we can't meet.

As the one million men, women and children who the Recovery Act saved from homelessness know better than anyone, that is what it is going to take to recover from this crisis.

That is what it is going to take to solve our challenges -- even ones as big as homelessness.

And that is precisely what this historic milestone represents -- and why I'm so proud to be here today. Thank you. I'd love to take some questions.


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