The Oct. 13 article “Federal homeless funds bring local mandates, focus” indicates Wisconsin’s approach to homelessness has become more “efficient” as a result of federal “prodding.”
One might ask, “Efficient for whom?"
Across Wisconsin, Housing and Urban Development mandates -- Housing First, coordinated entry, prioritizing “chronic” homelessness -- have had the effect of eliminating other housing and service responses that provide assistance to equally vulnerable populations.
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Under current law, most homeless children, youth and families are excluded from consideration by homeless assistance through the local continuum of care. This is because, with few practical exceptions, the HUD definition only includes people living in shelters or outdoors. By contrast, the definitions used by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services count children staying in motels, and those who are temporarily staying with others due to loss of housing and economic hardship. These children are at great risk of harm to their safety, health and development, and are more likely to experience homelessness as adults.
When considering the efficiency of HUD’s continuum of care, aligning these definitions and recognizing all forms of homelessness, as the bipartisan federal Homeless Children and Youth Act would do, represents the most pressing issue facing lawmakers and advocates alike.
Brad Paul, Madison