In this time of Fed Bashing, I just wanted to point out a federal program that works. It is called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program or HPRP (I didn’t make up the abbreviation). A part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, it provided financial assistance, case management, and housing location services (and more) to people who were already homeless or at risk of homelessness but just needed a little help to get back into stable housing. Now 2/3 of the way through the program, it has helped over 1 million people achieve housing stability. If you follow the link there is even a success story from the City of Austin.
Here in Austin, homelessness is a very visible problem, there isn’t wide agreement on the solution. A lot of what gets aired in public leans toward the “run them out of town on a rail”-type solutions, which, of course, are not solutions at all. And while HPRP is an excellent program, it isn’t the be-all-end-all either. It is another tool that has proven to work for a certain segment of the population, most specifically, families on the verge of homelessness or shuffling from friend to family, hoping for a permanent place to stay.
HPRP, is not for every person experiencing homelessness. Of all those newly homeless people out in Bastrop, a lot of them have insurance or other resources to get through to a new home. Of the people who are “couch surfing” (crashing with whichever friend or relative can put them up for the night), HPRP might be the answer. For the guy panhandling on the street everyday, perhaps Permanent Supportive Housing is a better option. And for the worst off, perhaps some kind of mental health intervention is better. Each case is different and what works for one may not work for another.
But I’m glad I live in a country where we’re still willing to help our neighbors in times of trouble, whether that is through individual generosity, or through collective action through our government at all levels. I don’t think that’s what most people mean when they talk about us being a Christian Nation, but perhaps it ought to be.