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In the wake of COVID-19, the landscape of homelessness has shifted dramatically. As a social systems planner, I've witnessed the need for innovative strategies to address this evolving crisis. My recent paper, "Getting Ahead of the New Homelessness by 2030," offers what I hope to be valuable insights into this new reality. This 2-part blog summarizes it for you.
The pandemic has led to an increase in homelessness, affecting diverse demographics, including youth, seniors, and families. Yet the emergence of encampments and simultaneous rise in chronic homelessness are symptomatic of deeper societal issues. This “new homelessness” demands a comprehensive understanding and a dynamic response strategy to get ahead of it.
One key solution proposed in the paper is the establishment of Systems Planner Organizations (SPOs). These entities, operating at the intersection of various sectors, focus on strategic, data-driven planning. They emphasize the importance of collaboration across governmental, non-profit, and private sectors. This systemic approach is designed to create more resilient and inclusive systems capable of addressing homelessness in all its complexity.
Data is at the heart of this new approach. We can gain a deeper understanding of the issue by harnessing technology and real-time data. This allows for more effective allocation of resources, identification of service gaps, and developing targeted interventions. The paper emphasizes the need for a national homelessness data strategy to guide these efforts.
Community engagement is crucial. It's not just about policy and data; it's about people. We have to advocate for the empowerment of communities, encouraging local solutions and fostering a sense of ownership. This bottom-up approach ensures that the voices of those most affected are heard and included in the decision-making process.
As we look towards 2030, the goal should be to manage homelessness and prevent it. This requires an adaptive, multifaceted strategy that reflects the changing dynamics of our society. It's a call to action for all stakeholders to unite, innovate, and drive change for a future where homelessness is managed and eradicated.