Washington, DC — The problems linked to homelessness, including substance abuse, mental illness, and crime, are increasing in America despite untold sums of government money spent to address this complex problem.
A new report from Discovery Institute, says Congress and Executive Branch need to focus more on untreated mental illness and substance abuse to reduce homelessness, drug overdoses, jail overcrowding, and misuse of emergency rooms.
The Institute’s report recommends that Congress:
- eliminate the Housing First policy and adopt the Housing PLUS Act;
- require that supportive services such as addiction treatment and job counseling services be combined with housing initiatives;
- revise the “IMD Exclusion” policy of Medicaid that limits care for mental illness and is responsible for much suffering on urban streets.
“The housing first policy often results in a housing only policy in many cases,” says Dr. Robert Marbut, a Discovery Institute senior fellow and former Director of the Federal Interagency Task Force on Homelessness. “A more diverse policy should include treatment for mental illness and drug addiction.”
“Congress should be measuring how many lives are improved and how many people exit homelessness, rather than promoting “harm reduction” initiatives,” adds Marbut
According to HUD’s five categories of homelessness, there are almost 1.2 million adults experiencing homelessness today. Additionally, the Department of Education reports another 1.5 million children experiencing homelessness.
The Discovery Institute report asserts that the policy preference for “Housing First” has made matters worse, contributing to rising numbers of families, children and adults experiencing homelessness.
“In essence,” says Marbut, “we have created an enormous federal homeless assistance program that is functionally equivalent to HUD Section 8 housing — but with no rules.”
“The success of federal programs should not be measured by amounts of inputs — such as numbers of housing vouchers delivered — but by the number of persons recovered from homelessness,” says Marbut
“Only a few Republicans and almost no Democrats in Congress so far have been willing to confront the reality of failed federal policy on homelessness and the need for reform,” according to Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute founder and Director of the White House Office of Planning and Evaluation under President Reagan. “We are hoping for change in the coming Session.”