The Daily Beast reports some good news about national progress in ending homelessness for those trapped in the most extreme poverty. Very encouraging report that highlights the vital nature of permanent housing.
Have you noticed that homelessness isn't worse? Here we are, living through the most protracted joblessness crisis since the Great Depression -- and surprisingly, fewer people are living on the street.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that the number of the chronically homeless declined by 30% between 2005 and 2007. You might have expected the numbers to spike again when the financial crisis hit but no. Since 2007, the number of chronic homeless has dropped another 19%.
A broader measure of the number of homeless counts the number of people living out of doors on one randomly chosen night. That broader measure has also improved through the economic crisis. Between January 2011 and January 2012, homelessness among veterans dropped by 7%.
To what or whom do we owe this good news?
In very large part, we owe it to the president whose library opened in Dallas last week: George W. Bush.
For three decades, we have debated what causes homelessness and how to deal with it. Is homelessness a mental health problem? A substance abuse problem? A problem caused by gentrification and urban redevelopment? Or something else again?
The Bush administration substituted a much simpler idea -- an idea that happened to work. Whatever the cause of homelessness, the solution is ... a home.