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Homelessness in the United States: Policy Considerations
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Over the past 15 years, the general public, media, scholars, and policy makers have all become concerned about homelessness as a widespread social problem. The amount of money the federal government spends on housing and the number of scholarly publications on homelessness have grown dramatically during this period. The general public is not only well informed about homelessness but has indicated a willingness to pay higher taxes to help homeless people obtain housing. Three discernible groups active in the debate - politicians, housing advocates, and social scientists - often use different study methods, adhere to different estimates on the prevalence of homelessness, and hold divergent beliefs about the causes of homelessness. While the debate about numbers and prospective solutions continues, the duration of the problem defies emergency relief measures. Short-term measures are likely to be counterproductive if they are funded at the expense of long-term solutions. Attention to the wide array of housing problems and cooperation among state and local governments and community groups is essential if efforts to end homelessness are to succeed. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services