How Are We Doing With the 10 Year Plans To End Homelessness?

Terrible, horrible and a total failure is the answer to the question!

10-Year Plans Reach Their Expiration Date

“In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years - a bold, innovative strategy to end homelessness in the United States."

Seattle is one of the few cities that looked back on the "Plan to End Homelessness" that was introduced 10 years ago and evaluating the successes and failures.  Most of the other cities just allowed the deadline pass quietly and without comment.  We decided to look at some of the other cities progress over the last 10 years.  Homelessness has so permeated the American landscape that it may seem that the social conundrum has always been a part of our society. However, homelessness is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Until the 1980s, there was not widespread homelessness in America. But tonight, "nearly 700,000 people will experience homelessness across the country, despite a $2 billion dollar a year infrastructure designed to deal with the problem.” ( This is a dramatic undercount only looking at those using a shelter or who are visible on one night.  Some estimates say that it is twice as large as this or even three times the size of the National Alliance numbers. 

In response to this idea of a ten year plan, 243 counties and states developed their own ten year plan to end homelessness.  Over the past few years many of these plans have expired with little to no improvement, in some situations the issue has even worsened.  Many of these plans will be expiring with in the year with homelessness still plaguing the area.  Here are some of the cities that boldly proclaimed that they would eliminate homelessness or at least a sizable portion of the population with the date that they introduced the plan.  As you can see since no city has actually ended homelessness in America that all these cities have failed.  Listed below are 20 of the cities with the start date of their plan and a link to detailed descriptions of their plan.

  1. Hartford Connecticut June 2005
  2. Memphis, Tennessee August 2002
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee October 2005
  4. Perry, Ohio December 2006
  5. Buffalo, New York April 2007
  6. Dayton, Ohio November 2006
  7. Allegany County, Pennsylvania June 2005
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2001
  9. Columbus, Ohio July 2002
  10. New York City, New York August 2006
  11. Washington, DC December 2004
  12. Louisville, Kentucky July 2002
  13. Indianapolis, Indiana April 2002
  14. Boise, Idaho November 2007
  15. Springfield, Illinois November2004
  16. Baltimore, Maryland January 2008
  17. Ann Arbor, Michigan September 2004
  18. Detroit, Michigan October 2006
  19. St. Paul, Minnesota September 2005
  20. Madison, Ohio December 2006

Click here to view the rest of the cities and their 10-year plans. These are a database of futility and wasted meetings and a full employment program for consultants.  The federal government did a great deal in the last 10 years to not end homelessness and in fact to help add to the population.  They did not reform the criminal justice system and they did not add any housing resources to the federal budget.  In fact, in much of the last 10 years they have only funded subsidized housing programs at 90% of the need to keep these buildings open and very little for repair.  They sliced off 80% of the money going to serve the emergency of homelessness and instead use those funds for rent and building apartments for those who are currently in housing.  They did not provide a quality basic education that will lead to a job or college.  The federal government did not figure out the housing for the millions of people addicted, mentally ill and other wise disabled individuals.  They did not reform the tax system to provide a minimum income or eliminate the crushing burden of student loans.  So, all these cities decided that they could overcome federal efforts to keep people homeless in America.  They all lost this bet and all the plans have failed so far.  No one is going to lose their job because these plans failed.  No consultant will outed as living in a dream world and have to fold up shop.  No Mayor who signed these plans will be ridiculed.  No social service provider will be criticized for failing at their core mission. Very few in the media will go back and publish commentaries about how we can't trust government because they publish these pie in the sky plans.

It is just a lot of wasted paper pushed by the Bush Administration (thank you noted Abolishionist Phil Mangano) and the National Alliance to End Homelessness that in the end meant nothing.  The only one punished will be the Mom and child in Ann Arbor who has no place to sleep tonight because we refocused our emergency shelter system to be a housing based system.  The guy living in Knoxville who has been unemployed for the six months and has a recent criminal background preventing him from convincing a landlord to rent to him will sit in an overcrowded shelter until he has reached the magic milestone of "long term homeless" or the offensive "chronically homeless" stage at one year of continuously living in a shelter. The 50 year old grandma will suffer because she self medicates to quiet the voices and then cannot function in a congregate living situation.  This grandma will be punished for the failure of these 10 year plans by sleeping alone in an abandoned building.  As always, the only people to suffer are those who are rarely consulted.  If currently homeless people were brought into the process, they would say we have to end homelessness in 10 days and every thing else is just lip service.

Brian Davis

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PS: Notice Cleveland does not have a 10 year plan.  NEOCH pushed and pushed and pushed not to go down this misguided path.