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The Latest Obama Promised to End Homelessness This Year

The former president’s ‘housing first’ policy has been a dismal failure. Published at The Wall Street Journal

It may be hard to believe looking at the current state of major American cities, but 2023 was supposed to be the year that all types of homelessness would be eradicated. That’s what the Obama administration promised when in 2013 the Department of Housing and Urban Development formally changed the federal government’s homelessness policy to “housing first,” under which homeless people receive federally funded housing vouchers with no strings attached. Things haven’t panned out as the administration planned. 

Team Obama ignored a harsh reality of homelessness: It is overwhelmingly a problem of untreated mental illness and substance-use disorder. California Policy Lab, a nonpartisan research institute at the University of California, found in 2019 that 78% of the homeless population in America reported having mental-health conditions, and 50% said mental illness contributed to their loss of housing. Additionally, 75% of the homeless said they struggled with substance abuse, and 51% said drug or alcohol use contributed to their loss of housing.

Before the 2013 change, HUD geared its approach to homelessness to deal with this complexity. Though the agency doesn’t deal directly with homeless people, it does provide the bulk of the government funding dedicated to helping them. This money is given to governmental agencies that are part of the Continuum of Care program. These are quasilocal entities that are sometimes managed by local government departments. But what HUD says goes, since that’s where most of the money comes from.

Continue Reading at The Wall Street Journal

Robert Marbut

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Robert Marbut is a renowned expert on homelessness and a senior fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. Marbut has a PhD in Political Behavior and American Political Institutions and his career has been marked by bipartisanship having served as Chief of Staff for San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros in the 1980s, as a White House Fellow under George H. W. Bush, and most recently as the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness from 2019 to 2021 under both the Trump and Biden administrations. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors of the United States Olympic Committee from 1992 to 2004.

Marvin Olasky

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Marvin Olasky is a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. He taught at The University of Texas at Austin from 1983 to 2008 and edited WORLD magazine from 1992 through 2021. He is the author of 28 books including Fighting for Liberty and Virtue and The Tragedy of American Compassion.