New Campaign Shows Progress for Homeless

Ed. Guess who is getting the job done?

New York Times Erik Eckholm June 7, 2006

DENVER — Arthur Sena spent years living in a hole that he had dug near the railroad tracks. He would probably still be there, defying offers of help from social workers and using cardboard to ward off the chill, if Denver had not adopted a radical strategy of putting homeless people into apartments of their own, no strings attached.

The “housing first” policy that this city adopted last year is part of an accelerating national movement that has reduced the numbers of the chronically homeless — the single, troubled men and women who spend years in the streets and shelters — in more than 20 cities.

In this campaign, promoted by a little-known office of the Bush administration, 219 cities, at last count, have started ambitious 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness.

The cities include New York, which is stepping up efforts to house the estimated nearly 4,000 people huddling on sidewalks or sleeping in parks, and Henderson, N.C., population 17,000, which recently counted 91 homeless people, 14 of them chronic cases.

Many of the early starters are reporting turnarounds. In Philadelphia, street dwellers have declined 60 percent over five years. In San Francisco, the number of the chronic homeless is down 28 percent in two years, in Dallas 26 percent and in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., 15 percent.

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