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We've Finally Figured Out How To House Chronically Homeless People, And It's Working

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About four years ago, a very ambitious goal was set to combat chronic homelessness. An organization called Community Solutions wanted to place 100,000 chronically homeless people into homes across the country.

As you can imagine, the 100,000 Homes Campaign wouldn't be easy.

Chronically homeless people have higher rates of mental and physical disabilities, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and comprehensive services are usually necessary in order for a chronically homeless person to achieve stable housing.

Beyond the innate difficulty of the goal, overseeing efforts from coast to coast was a daunting task. While some community housing organizations were excited to increase their effectiveness, others backed off the challenge, the New York Times reported, deeming the benchmarks too high to achieve.

But now, in May 2014, the organization has successfully housed more than 97,000 chronically homeless individuals, and expects to reach the 100,000 mark sometime next month.

So how have they done it?

According to the campaign's manifesto, four elements have played crucial roles in the organization's success thus far: Providing roofs over heads first and fast, knowing the chronically homeless by name to better address their circumstances, tracking person-specific data on who's living on the street and why, and improving and simplifying local systems to be more efficient.

Progress has also been tracked on a broader, national level. The newly released State of Homelessness in America 2014 shows the number of homeless people in the U.S. dropped by more than 152,000 between 2005 and 2013, with just a single one-year period within that time frame (2009-2010) reflecting a slight increase.

Steps taken in tackling veteran homelessness, a top priority by the Obama administration, has also shown significant improvements. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported at the end of last year a 24 percent reduction in veteran homelessness between 2010 and 2013. The State of Homelessness in America 2014 report also showed that the rate of veteran homelessness fell to 27 homeless veterans per 10,000 veterans.

But not all regions across the country have experienced similar levels of progress. While 31 states saw a decrease in homelessness, 20 states experienced increases. Also, the number of people in poor households living doubled up with family and friends increased drastically in North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska, among other states.

Learn more about the 100,000 Homes Campaign on the initiative's website.

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