Ending the Chronically Homeless

A 10-year goal: End homelessness

In 2006,  A rather ambitious, and my personal belief a rather misguided project, went underway in Southeast North Carolina (where there must have been a few two many do gooders running around with not enough time on their hands). That program:

A 10-year goal: End homelessness

An effort to tackle homelessness in Southeastern North Carolina begins today with a meeting of a committee formed to develop a 10-year plan.

On any night in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties, about 700 homeless people sleep in shelters, transitional housing or on the streets, according to a survey by the Tri-County Homeless Interagency Council. A small segment of this population is “chronically homeless,” meaning they remain without a place to live for long periods of time.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said he hopes the plan, expected to be in place in about nine months, will put a dent in the number of chronically homeless people, who use a significant amount of local resources.

Local businessman Windell Daniels and Spiro Macris, a retired orthodontist, will serve as committee co-chairmen, according to the city of Wilmington. The meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, 1 Estell Lee Place.

So where did all this $4.6 millions dollars of benevolent money come from. HUD and the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Why, you weren’t thinking these wonderful individuals were planning to save the homeless with funding of their own. No, of course not, that would have meant sacrifice and real commitment on their part with an element of risk and a tinge of passion. That might make it equivalent to an act of Christian faith and a commitment to Christ.

So where did all this start?

This national campaign started back in 2000, when the National Alliance to End Homelessness put out a call for this country to end homelessness in ten years. The challenge was ludicrous , but it caught the attention of Bill Clinton’s then-Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mel Martinez, who endorsed the idea of ending homelessness in ten years.

You might think that would have been the end of it….. 

But when former President George W. Bush appointed Philip Mangano to head the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2002, the federal campaign to end chronic homelessness within ten years officially began in earnest. Hundreds of cities signed on to the pact. Of course they did…. and why not…. billions were committed to it.

In 2010, at the eighth year of the plan and before anyone could begin to examine the results of the effort, the federal government performed a tactical reboot on this country’s plan to end chronic homelessness. The Obama Administration created Plan 2.0, “Opening Doors“, a call to end chronic and veterans’ homelessness in five years (2015), and family homelessness in ten years (2020). So the first 10 years must have shown some success?

So many plans and so many end-dates, both past and future.

Did chronic homelessness in America end in 2012? No.

Did chronic homelessness in Wilmington end in 2016? No.

Was the ten year plan to end homelessness a failure?

Yes, if the end result was to really end chronic homelessness. But I don’t believe that was really the point. Do you?

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