urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

A New Look at Homelessness in America

Document date: February 01, 2000
Released online: February 01, 2000

MR. ROBERT REISCHAUER: Today, we're here to hear about homelessness. Homelessness remains a problem despite the longest economic expansion in American history, and so it is an issue that remains troubling for any persons of conscience in this country. We are going to have a discussion led by Martha Burt, who is the director of the Social Services Research Program and a principal research associate at the Urban Institute and one of the nation's leading experts on homelessness, as well as the author of a path-breaking 1992 study which looked at this issue, entitled Over The Edge. She will report on new research which will be issued in published form later on but is significantly important, and we thought it, therefore, wise to share it with you today. This is research that has been supported by the Melville Charitable Trust, Fannie Mae Foundation, and the Casey Family Fund, for which we are appreciative.

I will turn this over to Marti at this point for the discussion.

MS. BURT: Thank you.

Today, we are going to share with you—we're eager to share with you—our answers to the question that most people ask most frequently about homelessness or at least the first question they ask: how many people are homeless. And we also are going to describe the homeless service system and how that has grown since the late '80s.

The question of numbers, of how many people are homeless, [that] is a very tricky one. It implies that there is a stable population, there is "the homeless." We shall see that that is not true. It also implies there is a number again, you're going to get more numbers than you want. This is the first time since 1987 that we have had new national data from which we can try to answer the question of how many people are homeless. And the first time ever that we have had an inventory of the whole homeless assistance network.

We're going to present some estimates that we think are fairly startling, that over the course of a year at least 2.3 million and probably as many as 3.5 million people experience homelessness at least for a short period. We'll walk you through how we got to those estimates, and tell you why we believe them. But first I would like to give some credit where credit is due, and also introduce you to other members of the panel.

The data we've used to make these estimates come from the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and their clients, affectionately known as NSHAPC.

The study was sponsored by the Interagency Council on the Homeless and 12 of its member federal agencies. There's an entire story on how that happened, if anybody wants to know it. The data were collected by the Census Bureau, which was also the initial stimulator of getting the study going. One of my federal project monitors, Jim Hoben, is here in the audience today from HUD. My other federal project monitor, Mary Ellen O'Connell, is in London for a year, which is really terrible. But the two of them together kept the study on track for a very long time, and I'm sure are as happy as I am to see the federal part of it over.

The work on these estimates that you're about to see today [is] strictly ours. They are based on NSHAPC data, but they are not in any way official. [The estimates] are not endorsed by any of the federal sponsors or any other federal agency, or even paid for with federal money. Work on the estimates is part of our work on a forthcoming book supported by the Melville Charitable Trust, Fannie Mae Foundation, and some of the analyses on foster care were also paid for by the Casey Family Program.

I would like to introduce my colleagues Laudan Aron, who is right here, who worked very long and hard on coming up with these estimates, [and] another colleague, Jesse Valente, who is turning the slides, who also has done yeoman duty in this analysis.

And my fellow panel members, Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, who was one of the advisors on the federal report and has worked for many years on issues of ending homelessness and those things related to homelessness.

And Sue Marshall, who is the director of Washington, D.C.'s Community Partnership to End Homelessness, which organizes and plans for and supervises the District's homeless assistance service network. [She] also has been an Urban Institute staff person several times in her career.

It's important that you know, in order to understand the estimates, who supplied these data and when. The program information comes from 6,300 program representatives who were interviewed by telephone, and was collected in February 1996. The client data, which are the actual estimates of how many people are homeless, comes from 4,200 program users, some of whom are homeless and some of whom were not homeless, collected from programs in October of 1996. The reason for the date change was the federal shutdown in the winter of '95, the end of '95, so that the Census Bureau was not able to do the client data collection in February. And as we shall see, that actually has some advantages for us.

It's important that you also know the range of programs that were visited for this data collection from clients, because I want you to realize that this is not just shelters. When I say service programs for homeless people, [I include] soup kitchens, rural food pantries, mobile food programs, outreach programs that go to the streets, drop-in centers, and other targeted programs.

Now, it is also important to remember that these are only those that were open in October, no matter whether there were others open in February or not since we collected data from clients in October, only the programs that were open in October are included.

There were a number of underlying challenges that we had to meet to develop these estimates. Every estimate rests on assumptions, and these are no different. So the first thing that you need to remember is that these are from service users. I am going to be talking consistently throughout this [about] the number of homeless people who used homeless assistance programs in October and February, or over the course of a year. There are obviously homeless people who do not use homeless assistance programs. So these are a lower-bound estimate of the people who are homeless at any given time.

Another thing that we had to do: As you saw, we have a lot of different kinds of programs that we went to find people in. And many people used more than one of those programs. So we had to develop ways not to double count if we were going to get to an accurate estimate of the number of people who are homeless. Some of the information we had to use came from providers in terms of how many people they expected to serve. And providers almost always overestimate when they are asked that question, not because they are trying to tell lies or anything, but because the way you remember things is from the extremes. So you tend to report the highest-use night. And for food servers, it's even more difficult because they usually count meals, and so they prepare 100 meals, and if 67 people come and some people have seconds, they still report the meals.

There's obviously going to be seasonal variation, as well as some programs that were open in February that were not open in October. The client diversity is also important, and we had to develop standard ways to decide this person is homeless, this person is formerly homeless, this person has never been homeless. And I'm only going to be talking about the currently homeless people today.

And, finally, and very important for the annual projections, is that the homeless population is not static, and there are a lot of people who are homeless for a relatively short period of time, as well as the more common image of somebody who is homeless for years at a time.

I'm going to be giving you estimates for two different units of analysis. The first of those is clients or households. So we interviewed adults. If that adult had children with them, then they are representing themselves plus some of the children ... and we call those households. Okay. We are also going to be talking about people, which is counting the children along with the adults. And most of what I'm going to be talking about will end up being about people.

And I'm going to be giving you estimates for three different time periods: a seven-day estimate, which is most of what we're going to be talking about; an annual, a projection of that seven-day estimate to an annual figure; and there is also presented, on these slides, one-day estimates which I am not going to be talking about. If you want to ask about them at the question period, that's fine.

So without further ado—actually there is a further ado—any time you use these estimates, what you kind of need to say to yourself is these are households or people who used homeless assistance programs on an average week in October or people who used homeless assistance programs on an average week in February.

The first numbers that we're going to look at are for October, and for October we have estimates of 346,000 households who were homeless, homeless people using homeless assistance programs, and 444,000 people—that includes the children—who used homeless assistance programs on an average week in October of 1996.

We also have four estimates for February, and you can see that they are considerably higher. So the number of households who used the homeless assistance program and were homeless themselves on an average week in February is 637,000, and the number of people is 842,000.

There are obviously considerable differences between these two numbers, and let's just look at these two. And, again, what you need to be thinking to yourself is these are the people who were homeless and used a program in February, whereas these are the people who were homeless and used a program in October. And there is a fair amount of provider indication that there's less use of homeless assistance programs. The highest, the peak use of homeless assistance programs, is in the winter.

And so a certain amount of this difference is accounted for simply because people don't have to use the programs as much in the fall. Actually, there have been news stories recently about the level of demand in the past two weeks for homeless assistance programs because the weather has been so awful. So there's a certain amount of it being easier to count them if they come into programs, but there's also a major issue of not just assuming that because somebody isn't using a program they're not homeless. I don't know. I can't tell you for sure [that] there were 842,000 people, homeless people, in October, and that only about half of them used the programs, but I am reasonably certain that there is more than this number of people who were homeless in October and [were] not using programs.

Okay. The next thing we want to do is to look at these in the context of the numbers that have been around for 10 years, which we also produced. The middle of this range in here is the 500,000 to 600,000 people homeless at any given time that the Urban Institute developed as an estimate. It came out in 1999 and was for March of 1987, when the data were collected. And as you can see, the October estimate—now, these are estimates not just of service users, although it was based on service users, but it included a projection trying to guess what the total homeless population might be in the U.S.—the lower estimate that we have for October is slightly lower than the lower end of that range. But the estimate for February is significantly higher than the high end of that range, suggesting rather strongly that the number of people who experienced a spell of homelessness on an average week in February or winter in 1996 was higher than the number who experienced it in March of 1987.

Okay. Now we did something else, which was to convert these estimates into an annual projection, and I'm going to tell you why we did that and then I'm going to tell you how we did that. There's been a lot of evidence lately—or the evidence has been released in the last few years that very strongly suggests—that very many more people are homeless during the course of a year than are homeless at any given time. And remember that I warned you not to think of homelessness as a static condition or the homeless population as a static population. Well, it's very not static. There are lots of people who are homeless for a week, for a month, for two months, and then when they get out of homelessness or when they leave a shelter, somebody else takes their place. And that turnover is happening throughout the year. And so over the course of a year, you have a lot more short-term people in the population than you have at any given time.

And so what we did was to take people who were in a first spell of homelessness in October, and a first spell of homelessness in February, and whose spell of homelessness had started within the seven days of when we interviewed them. So this is the people who became homeless for the first time, or there were a few who became homeless who had been homeless before, but not within the last 12 months. So what we're trying to do is to get out the duplicate, the people who had been homeless more than once in this. So let's call them first-time homeless. And that's the number of people that became homeless this week.

We take that number and we multiply it times 51 for the 51 weeks that are left in the year that started this week, and we add that number to our week, which is the 444, and when you do that on the basis of the October estimates, you get to 2.3 million people who will have experienced a spell of homelessness and used homeless assistance programs over the course of a year. And when you do it for February, you get to 3.5 million people who have experienced a spell of homelessness and used a homeless assistance program over the course of a year.

Of these people, 38 percent, based on the October estimate, and 39 percent, based on the February estimate, are children. That's young children, children with their parents. That does not include homeless youth, for whom nobody has any estimates. And, of course, it includes more adults who are homeless, and the ratio of those adults who are parents and with these children also goes up.

What we did with this information is to compare it to the U.S. population and the U.S. poverty population for 1996. So the two estimates bracket for the U.S. population as a whole—bracket about 1 percent of the population. And guess what that is. That's Mitch Snyder's old guess from 1983. But he was doing it for right now, today, as opposed to over the course of a year. And when you look at the U.S. population in poverty, if you use the October estimate, you can see that 6.3 percent would have been homeless over the course of a year. But if you used the February estimate, it's almost 1 in 10 poor people, and about 9 percent of poor children who will have experienced a spell of homelessness over the course of a year.

Now, these seem phenomenally high. But the other two sources of data that we have now that we didn't have before are wildly different from this study. One of them is based on shelter use, documented shelter use that you can unduplicate, so you know you're only counting one person once, even if they've been in 180 nights that year, from New York and Philadelphia, where, on average, over the course of a year for every year since 1989 1 percent of the total population of New York City and 1 percent of the total population of Philadelphia have been in a shelter.

And the other source of information that also gets you to about 1 percent is from a household survey, a random-digit dial household survey that was looking for formerly homeless people, for people who had ever had a homeless experience, and then when they found people like that, they asked them how long ago it was. So they also come up with something very close to this for an estimate or a projection of the number of people who have experienced a homeless spell at least for some period of time within the course of a year.

One reason that so many more people are using homeless assistance services, and therefore we can find them to count, is that there's a lot more of those services to use and [focus] to switch the mood slightly from the people to the services, we can see that there has been a huge increase in the shelter and other homeless assistance program capacity or use over the 10 years between—well, 8 years—between the late '80s and 1996 when these data were collected.

In 1988, in the winter, HUD estimated that there were 275,000 shelter beds in this country, which were something like 70 percent, 75 percent occupied. I mean that was the average occupancy rate. They were virtually all emergency shelters and voucher distribution. In February '96, we have an expectation from service providers that 607,000 homeless people will use homeless assistance housing and shelter programs on an average day in February. And if you just look at transitional and permanent housing programs, that is virtually the same, these two together are virtually the same as the total capacity of emergency shelters in 1988. And this, the growth in transitional and permanent housing, is highly attributable to federal funding through McKinney and the local money that it stimulated in response.

However, we also see an incredible growth in soup kitchen meals. We have soup kitchen meal estimates only from big cities for 1987, not for the country as a whole. And our estimate in 1987 was 97,000 soup kitchen meals available in big cities at that time over an average day. In 1996, that number is up to 382,000, almost a four-time increase. And there isn't a lot of federal money here. So both of these are in response to demand, of course, but the growth from the meals is a response to demand that isn't being in any way driven by easy availability of money. It's being driven by need.

I'm just going to let you flash on this, I'm not going to talk about it, but there is also a growth in many other kinds of programs in the homeless assistance program service network. All the health programs are, again, mostly driven by McKinney. A lot of the outreach programs, ditto.

So: conclusions and implications. Before we get to conclusions and implications, I just want to say, take care in using these estimates. I know I am going to hear tomorrow that there are 2.3 [million] to 3.5 million homeless people in this country. I know I'm going to hear that. That's not what I said. I said over the course of a year there are at least 2.3 and probably 3.5 million people who have experienced a spell of homelessness at some time during the year. It doesn't translate into today.

It's also obvious that there are great fluctuations in service use over time, and therefore in our ability to find homeless people and identify them and count them. We've seen it from one season to another, it's also true within any month—the end of the month more people are using services than the beginning—it's even true within weeks. That may or may not mean there are more homeless people. It's also obvious that turnover in the homeless population is great, and it's obvious that a lot of people experience homelessness over the course of the year. And that when thought of in terms of the poverty population, this population of people who do [experience homelessness] is really very large. It's also very obvious that this country has made a major investment in the service network.

So why do we still have so many homeless people? Is this all for naught—should we just dump the whole thing, it's obviously not helping anybody, because now we have more homeless people—to which my answer, as you might expect, is that's not the right way to think about it. The programs, I think, are seriously and heavily in response to need, and the need is out there whether we have the programs or not, whether it's easy to find people and count them or whether it's not. What we have now as a service system is much more highly differentiated, able to meet many different kinds of needs, able to do transitional programs for people who need them, able to do medical care, some mental health stuff, and so on. There is a certain amount of, "if you build it they will come" aspect to the growth of the service system.

And when I first started looking at the turnover rates of people in shelters, I also said, wow, if you'd let them stay longer we'd have fewer homeless people, the turnover wouldn't be as high and so on. But the answer—I mean, one way to think about that is that there's always someone else who needs this service, and there's someone waiting for that bed. So as soon as one person vacates it, someone else is there. They haven't gone away. So you have the capacity; people are going to use it; they're desperate enough to use it. That level of desperation is going to be there whether the service is there or not.

Third, many formerly homeless people are formerly homeless because of these services, so everybody in those permanent housing programs is a formerly homeless person, with a disability, who is being enabled to not be in a homeless situation because the program is there. And lastly, many people are obviously using the system in a crisis, which is probably the fifth crisis of this week for them and the one that finally drove them onto the street. They needed the system; they use the system; they seem to be able to get themselves back out of the system after relatively short periods of time. That has implications for what kind of system we should build, but not that we should have no system.

Another question. Do we still have homelessness in 2000? We have such a booming economy, is it likely to be this large? In answer I would very briefly say we still have 30 million poor people in this country, those who are not on the bandwagon of this economy. Even those with minimum-wage jobs who are paying 60 and 70 percent of their income in rent are in extremely precarious situations, and if any of you have tried to find either yourself or your kids an apartment in any city in this country in the last 3 years, you know very well that rents have skyrocketed, and that makes it that much harder for very poor people to stay in housing.

Also in this period we've seen reductions in some very important support programs: Supplemental security income for people with substance abuse disabilities, food stamp rules have changed, AFDC/TANF rules have changed. It's not a new conclusion, but it's still a relevant one that we need to address issues of extreme poverty, often coupled with other vulnerabilities such as alcohol, drug and mental health problems, physical disabilities, fractured families and adverse childhood experiences. If we want to prevent future homelessness, one of the best predictors of future homelessness is childhood homelessness. We can start by making things better for the children in these shelters.


MS. ROMAN: All right. Well, I'll be brief. I want to thank Marti for the work that she's done on this, and the commitment, and it really is kind of an amazing set of data, also Jim, Hope, and any other people, federal partners, Marsha Martin, and Mark Johnson is here too, and people that have pulled all of this together, really with mammoth effort to make this happen, as Marti said, that's a whole other—maybe that's a second Tuesday, a whole story about how that happened.

And the data is really important. I think it also—I'd just like to start by reiterating Marti's cautions about the information, because as important as it is, there is a lot that it's not. And I think the most important thing that you can say about it is that it's not so much on the total numbers this is an issue, but on the other information that's in the data, but it is a point-in-time look, and it's not—and she's annualized the figure, but when you start looking at the data that's actually in the survey, the interagency council report, that data is really point in time, and so it over-represents a lot of characteristics of the homeless people who tend to stay the longest in the system; that is, mental health issues, substance, alcohol abuse issues, and other physical health problems. And I think that one of the most important things that Marti said in that regard, too, is the startling thing about this is not so much that, the startling thing is how many American people, especially poor people, are experiencing homelessness in the course of the year. I think that's the thing that we need to focus ourselves on.

There are really two major questions I guess that I think, having heard this presentation, that come to my mind, and [one] is, has the number of homeless people gone up, or has it gone down, and why has that happened? And the second is, then how can we use that information to try to figure out how to end homelessness? That's what our interest is. What does all of this mean? So in terms of the first question, that is have the numbers gone up or down, and why. It's not entirely clear-cut, I think. But, I would say the general trend is that they've gone up. And that's really a frightening finding, I think: If the numbers have gone up, and we've got 40,000 programs that are assisting homeless people, this tremendous increase in the capacity to help people, and yet the number of people who are homeless has gone up, I think that's scary. That's a very frightening thing for us to have found. And, in fact, we have to look at little bit at why that would be, definitely. But I think there are some questions, and Marti has addressed some of them.

I mean, one is, if you have a service, if you're counting contacts with a service system and you have a service system that's twice the size, are you just going to be counting more people? So how much—even though people are queued up behind to use those systems, there may be some—the size of the system itself may be affecting our ability to count people. I think another issue we have to think about is the economy, which again Marti raised a little bit. But why is it that when we have such a booming economy, a time when we would expect to be seeing this kind of a problem get better, we are not seeing it get better? And I think that definitely has to do with housing costs, and the increase of housing costs, but there may be some other factors in there.

The third thing, I think, again, is going back to the service providers. If we've got this—not the service providers, but the system that we've put in place to address this problem—how can it be that the problem is growing so much, if we've got such an enormous infrastructure that's supposed to be dealing with it? We have to think about that. And, again, in terms of the numbers, I think that a thing to focus on is the prevalence, the number of people who become homeless in the course of a year, the number of poor people, the number of children who become homeless in the course of the year. What this says to me is that we have a whole infrastructure of mainstream programs that's obviously doing a worse and worse job, if the people that it's supposed to be serving are falling into homelessness. So what are the implications of this? What is it that we should be doing?

Again, I think there we have to look at the turnover rate in terms of shoring things up. We have developed, essentially, a parallel system that's serving a whole level of extremely poor people that are falling into it, out of the mainstream poverty programs. And I think we have to be thinking about what the—as a matter of policy, is this a sensible approach, and also something that the interagency council study doesn't tell us, which is what are the outcomes of this parallel system? Is this parallel system of homeless assistance doing a better job, or a good job, ending homeless for people? And I think that remains a large question, after reading the data in this survey. Marti quite rightly says that people who are formerly homeless largely are formerly homeless because they have interacted with this system of assistance. But I think as a policy matter we don't know enough about the outcomes of that system to say this is a preferable to having the mainstream system do a better job.

Another issue, I think, that the interagency council report points out is the degree to which the people who are homeless have interacted with other systems that are supposed to be helping them. At the time of this study 52 percent of the people, I think, were on AFDC. That's a frightening thought right there, because that's half of the households—was it 52 percent of the families—52 percent of the families were receiving welfare, and so presumably those families are going to be even further challenged. That was the failure of the welfare system to sustain people, even when we had welfare. So that's a frightening thought right there. Another thing I thought was a little bit startling was that 23 percent of the people were veterans, but only 6 percent of them received disability and only 2 percent received veteran's pensions. So the veterans, you know, 26 percent of homeless people are veterans, very few of those veterans are getting any assistance to stop them from becoming homeless from the veterans programs.

Fifty-four percent of people had been incarcerated or had some interaction with the criminal justice system. So that means the criminal justice system is discharging people, the outcome—who end up being homeless at some point. They're not doing a particularly good job of helping people get back on their feet when they—of course, there's a complex interaction there. Twenty-seven percent of people who were homeless had been in foster care, group homes, or other institutional settings. This points out another I think very important finding of this data, which is the multigenerational aspect of it, and the interaction with other systems.

Only 3 percent, I think, of the general population has a foster care history, versus 27 percent of homeless people. So obviously there's a big problem in the foster care system that's showing up in the homeless system, and 44 percent of the people that were surveyed self-reported treatment for alcohol or drug abuse problems or mental health problems in patient treatment. So that means almost half of the people that were in this system had had interactions with mental health or substance abuse treatment systems. So in short, these folks are very involved in all kinds of other mainstream systems of assistance that are supposed to be helping poor people in this country not end up homeless, and yet they're ending up homeless. I think that's where we've got to look for—we've got to look for what's broken.

So, finally, I would just close by thanking Marti again for the work and the commitment she's had over the years to investigating this, and the agencies that paid for it. I think it gives us a lot of information and sends us down a path, a further path, I think, in looking for ways that we really can have an impact on the problem of homelessness and make more progress in ending it.



MS. MARSHALL: I, too, am going to be brief. I would be the last person in the universe to quibble with Marti Burt about methodology or numbers. What I would like to do is give you a flavor of the District's experience that basically affirms what you've heard. On any given day—and the numbers I'm giving you are contained on a fact sheet that is in your packet—on any given day there are literally 7,500 to 8,000 people in the District of Columbia who are homeless. If you take that estimate—and my data is based on analysis of the provider network in the District for the year 1998—you take that data and annualize it, on an annual basis we serve 12,500 people. What that means is that roughly 2.3 percent of the District's entire population, if you use a base of 530,000, experience homelessness at some point during the year.

If I get one point across to you today, it is that the fastest growing segment of that population is women with children. And we really do, as both of my predecessors have said, really do need to give some serious attention to children starting out their lives in situations like a homeless shelter. The estimate of 2.3 percent of the population is more than twice the national average. That's because the District has a disproportionately high portion of its population that is poor. I believe that some very small fraction of this is also attributable to the fact that the District is one of the few places in the country that has a history of a right-to-shelter law. We no longer have such a law on the books, but the programs that were developed out of that right-to-shelter initiative remain.

Over the past five years—and this was done as a grantee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Innovative Demonstration Homeless Program—the District's shelter system has been transformed from one that was in 1993-'94 88 percent emergency shelter, which meant from 7:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning, and just 12 percent transitional and permanent housing. That system in 1999 had only 15 percent emergency shelter, 66 percent transitional shelter and housing, and 19 percent supportive housing.

What I'd like to do very briefly is just tease out a few policy issues here. One of them is the issue that you have already heard about the functioning or malfunctioning of mainstream systems. One of the principles we embraced when we set out on the D.C. initiative was not to set homeless poor people apart from other poor people, not to build separate service delivery systems. It continues to be a policy challenge for us, where the responsibility of a homeless system ends and the responsibility of mainstream systems begin.

I want to pick up on Marti's point: If you build it they'll come. They will come if there's nothing else. If you build it and there are better alternatives—and to me the better alternatives are obvious, a livable wage and affordable housing—if those things exist and you build it, they won't come, because they will have what they need. I want to talk about some of the experiences we've had with programming, and basically what we've done with programming is deepen the level of services that are available to poor people who are homeless. Homelessness in the District of Columbia, and I would also suggest in other major metropolitan areas and rural areas as well, is a function of chronic poverty. I want to give you just one utilization set of statistics from the District that also underlies the point that that stereotypical little toothless white man that you see is not the face of homelessness, it is not the same person this year as it was last year.

When we looked at approximately two years' worth of data in the largest programs we have in the District for single adults, 48 percent of the shelter users stay less than seven days. That's almost half of the people stay less than seven days. Seventy-nine percent stayed less than 60 days in that entire almost two-year period. If you look at the other end of the data, I think this is one of the most telling statistics, and one that should drive the policies that we implement, and it is [that] 15 percent of the men and women stayed more than 90 days in our shelter system used up 75 percent of the bed nights, 15 percent of the population used 75 percent of the bed nights. So I believe we need to begin to examine the efficacy of building shelter systems that respond to that small proportion of the population.

I'd like to talk about characteristics of what we find to be good programs that help move people out of homelessness. And the first principle is housing first. Yes, it is true that deep services are needed, that services are needed to match the conditions that present. Any of the other issues, including substance abuse, mental illness, parenting, any of the other issues that homeless people present become, and this sounds so obvious, become much easier to solve if a family or an individual is housed. Programs need to be holistic, comprehensive, and, most importantly, they need to be flexible; we need to get away from these hard categories.

The programs need to be flexible enough, again, to present alternatives that match the needs that people who are homeless bring. One of the things that we've done differently in the District of Columbia that we were able to do through this demonstration process is, in addition to funding shelter programs, we also have a series of initiatives where the funding goes behind the client. Generally, how these programs work is a case manager will present a case plan to us. We fund that case plan. Typically and obviously, the case plan will include housing. If you're talking about families, you're typically talking about some sort of employment training, some sort of connection to day care. In the instance of both singles and families, we have also funded private substance abuse treatment, private mental health treatment.

There are two programs that I would like to cite in closing. One of them we call Home First. And it recognizes the increasingly large proportion of homeless people who have mental health issues. I believe that the District, as well as other communities nationally, needs to come to grips with the issue of mental health. How shall we serve people who are incapable of making good decisions for themselves? What the Home First program does is—this program is funded by the District's Commission on Mental Health—is a partnership between our organization of service providers and the mental health providers?.

MS. MARSHALL: We have a similar program, and one of the things you hear about the District is we have a waiting list for emergency shelter for families. Oxymoron. If you can wait, it's not an emergency. What we have is an urgent situation to which we have not responded. And typically some precipitating event brings that family into the shelter. When we called families off of our waiting list we find that we have a one in four response rate, which means three of four people find some way on their own to take care of that situation that they're in. I would suggest that the other major policy issue for us is that of the number of poor people who are ill housed. There was some research done in the District, I guess about 10 years ago, that Phil Dearborn and others did, that said in this metropolitan area there are almost 40,000 doubled-up households, 47 percent of the families we serve come to us out of some doubled-up household situation.

Thank you.


MS. BURT: Okay. We're now open for questions. Somebody will be wandering around with a microphone to hand it to you, we really hope you will talk into the microphone, and please identify yourself before you start speaking.

QUESTION: Guy Raz. Would you say that the District of Columbia has the worst homeless problem in the country?

MS. BURT: I doubt it. We don't have any local data from the NSHAPC. NSHAPC had a sample of 42,000 people all together, that covered the whole U.S. There were 76—roughly—areas, about 50 people came from each of them. And I am not willing to make any generalizations about New York City homelessness and D.C. homelessness based on 50 people from that jurisdiction. You have to, if they're going to do that, go to the local service providers and the local numbers and estimates, and I don't know anybody who has actually done that in a systematic way to look at differences across localities.

(To Ms. Marshall) Do you?

MS. MARSHALL: I am not aware either, and I would say that I don't think the District has the worst problem. I think we get into semantics about what does worst mean. I think the fact that the District was fortunate to have a cash investment from HUD in order to transform the system means that we have been well suited to begin to deal with the problem.

QUESTION: Steve Redburn from OMB. A couple of questions about the numbers. As I recall, the methodology of the 1987 study was primarily an extrapolation from people who ran soup kitchens and shelters in big cities.

MS. BURT: Correct.

QUESTION: Is it possible, given that your numbers show a four-fold growth in facilities in big cities between the two dates, that the 1987 number may have been an undercount, because there was less access by the homeless to those services in '87? That's one question I have.

MS. BURT: Okay. Let me try to do that. There certainly were fewer programs to access, so how many people we might have missed is probably more than we missed this time. The actual estimates, estimates from '87 are only from cities over 100,000 and only for service users of shelters and soup kitchens, and were of 229,000 adults and children. We took that in a sort of set of guesses and assumptions and extrapolated it to the non-service users in those cities, and then to the rest of the country. That's why you have that range of 500,000 to 600,000 from '87. But there is absolutely no question that there were fewer services, and therefore that there were fewer people who could have used services. But there's also no question from '96 that the people who are using those services qualify as literally homeless by a HUD definition of literally homeless in '96.

QUESTION: The second question, in your count for '96, do I understand you to say you're counting people who were formerly homeless, but live in permanent housing?

MS. BURT: Not in these numbers.

QUESTION: Not in these numbers.

MS. BURT: We do have—we can do that also. But that's not in these numbers, although it's true that of the 2.3 million or 3.5 million who were homeless at any given time, they may have become formerly homeless and in permanent housing. I don't know what would have happened to them, but they would have definitely experienced a period of literal homelessness in that year's period.

QUESTION: There's three groups—

MS. BURT: And you are?

QUESTION: I'm James Loewen. I'm an author. There are three groups that seem quite disproportionately overrepresented: African Americans, Native Americans, and males generally. And I wonder if you have any thoughts and explanations as to why those three groups are so overrepresented among the homeless?

MS. BURT: The males part I think is a result of basic family disconnect, it being—let me sort of back into this with a different statistic to throw at you, most of the people who are homeless, male and female alike, are parents, men as well as women. The men are not with their children, the women are. The men may never have been with their children. The women rarely have never been with their children. Women basically are carrying their family responsibilities, the men are not, the men are easier—they're more separated, the more problems they have the less support they probably get, because they don't have, or haven't assumed, responsibilities for other people. So family and friends will help, I think, women with children. They will help the children, and the women secondarily, that's what they're doing. But they will try as best they can to keep them off the streets.

I don't think that they feel the same, or behave the same, with respect to the single men. And the single men are not necessarily that connected. I think you have very different—this is going to be very dangerous to say. They—I don't know enough about Native American situations to say anything that would generalize about that. But I think if you look at the difference between Hispanic populations, which are not overrepresented among the homeless, although they are equally poor, proportionately, and the African Americans, I think you have to be looking at issues of family structure and culture to try to understand why, however poor and however fractured, one of those cultures at least at the moment seems to be more willing to keep everybody inside, and the other one is less able to.

MS. MARSHALL: May I add to that, I would suggest that as you look at African Americans, you also have to look economically at unemployment rates, look at marginalization from the economic system, I think, and recognize that what you're talking about here is a problem of persistent and chronic poverty.

MS. BURT: And that goes for—I mean since, I think around the mid-'50s, it began to be less reasonable for African-American women to marry the fathers of their children. It was that long that it has been since African-American men could earn enough to support a family and made a reasonable decision to get married when you had children. And that kind of split [or] assault upon intact families from the economic side was not, in fact, the case before that time, and is not largely the case for other groups.

QUESTION: Rochelle Friedman with McCauley Institute. Politically in Washington, because Congress passed and the president signed the welfare reform legislation, there's been a real attempt from Washington to highlight the so-called successes of welfare reform. On the other hand, a number of studies have indicated that a significant number of service agencies, including food kitchens, shelters, and so forth, have seen a dramatic increase in the need for those services and the use of those services nationwide. I know that we don't want to overly focus on numbers, but I also know that numbers make an impact in terms of legislation on the Hill. I'm wondering if the panelists would comment on what you suspect to be true from your experience: If those numbers were to be looked at now, what effect do you suppose the 1996 welfare legislation has had on what we're talking about today in terms of the needs and so forth of homeless services?

MS. MARSHALL: I would suggest that, as with many policies and many populations, the population is not monolithic. I think that the deeper we get into the welfare reform era, the more impact we're going to see. When we look at the characteristics, for example, of young women who present with children, we find very, very low educational attainment, we find they never had households on their own, women who require job training. So as time runs out on people's welfare entitlement, I predict that we're going to see lots and lots more women and children in the system. It presents, again, one of those policy challenges—and it is a question that is beginning to emerge here in Washington—and it is the appropriateness of suspending TANF dollars on families and others who are in homeless shelters. Again, I think different programs all serving the same people need to better coordinate, to make sure the people are receiving services.

MS. ROMAN: I would just add to that, I don't think we have anything—I think the few studies we have on homelessness have said a maximum of about 25 percent of people who were sanctioned from welfare end up in the homeless assistance system very quickly. But we don't have very much to go on for that. On the other hand, what we have seen is a real enormous increase in demand for food. And it seems like what's happening is it's not that people get sanctioned or removed from welfare and immediately the next day go to the homeless shelter to check in, it's probably going to take a lot longer. What they are doing is trying to accommodate, we think, the loss of income with an income substitute like food.

So they're trying to get food into the house so they have more resources available for rent. I think, like Sue, that it's going to take a while before we really know what the impact is beyond any kind of anecdotal reports that we get from families, as service providers unfortunately were not very well prepared for that to happen. And I would just reiterate that it's startling the percentage of people in 1996, more than half the families were on AFDC already. So I think it's to be expected that we're going to see an increase in that area, or we would today because of that.

QUESTION: This is an observation—

MS. BURT: Who are you?

QUESTION: I'm James Hoben with HUD Office of Policy and Research. An observation going back one question to when the gentleman on my right asked about the disproportion of males. And part of Marti's answer, I do know the data reasonably well, as Marti knows, having been involved as a co-director. And one of the things that this study started to suggest to many of us, and Marti started to answer that and I just wanted to put a light on it, is that homelessness may well be as much a product of social poverty, which I'll define, as it is economic poverty.

And what I mean by social poverty, and I think it's important for us in public policy to realize this, social poverty defined in two frameworks, if you talk to the homeless providers and others: one of persons [who are] totally broken and are lacking in self-esteem and self worth; the other, which Marti addressed very articulately with the case of males, is an entire lack of a social support network, somebody who cares enough to help you, let you live in their house, give you a couch, give you some monies. There is incredible data here in this study on the vastly larger portions of homeless who have had no marriage—now that's not a good measure particularly, but as Marti said, who are separated the men from their families. There is incredible data about the foster care experiences. If you look at the data on the source of incomes on these households, and we've got a fairly complete picture of it, not only below half have only half of what American poverty level is for their household size, but very negligible amounts of money from any friends or any families.

And I pose that for everybody, because many people think that homelessness is about poverty and not a house, economic poverty. And I challenge the group that are here, and others, to look at this data from the standpoint of the issue of the coincidence of social and economic poverty resulting in homelessness. Thank you.

MS. BURT: Let me add a couple of things from some analyses that we've done that will be coming out in the book that is coming out when we finish it. And we have done—there is one chapter there that is an analysis of family status, which is with children, single, and other—meaning you're with somebody who is not a child—and by gender. And what you see there, one of the absolutely most consistent and striking findings that, for the differences between men and women, in every family status is early and persistent drugs and alcohol. They started before they were 15, drinking to get drunk and/or using drugs regularly, and they're still doing it. And it's not that the women aren't, it's that close to twice as many of the men are. There's not much difference on the mental health side, which is also high, but not that early. And there's not much difference, and they're both high, on abuse and neglect. They're both very high on physical abuse; girls are higher on sexual abuse. But the alcohol and drug use among the men, regardless of family status, is very high.

And the other thing, as long as I'm on the subject, I would say is that the idea of the two-parent family, that there are two-parent families who are homeless, and somehow they're there, the cream of the crop, better homeless families, you don't want these men. I'm telling you. They look—the men who are with children are—have at least as many of these problems as anybody else. They have criminal records, they have substance abuse histories, they have—they don't work, they have worse educations, and so on. So as fathers of children and heads of families, I think the single women with children are actually better, or the kids are probably better off with the single women with children.

QUESTION: —Just now you mentioned the criminal system. Previously, I just remember one comment. The criminal justice system at the moment, I wonder how much that is contributing to the lack of social support, the lack of families, the effect on men who are removed, but the effect on women whose children then become part of the foster care system. And we know that that has very deleterious effects. So I'm wondering what you've found about that, the justice system.

MS. BURT: The involvement with the criminal justice system, our measures of that are at least five days in a county jail or military lock-up or state or federal prison. So we were trying to avoid [those who were] being jailed because [they're] homeless as being caught in there. And it is at 50 percent, the men are definitely higher than the women for that. It has got to break up families. It is also, however, with respect to foster care and what happens to the children, another one of the most interesting things, in terms of the patterns of child keeping and child caring for, is that the men who have—who are parents, and whose children are not with them, those children are overwhelmingly with the mother, who is not homeless. The women who have children who are not with them, [those children]are not with the fathers. They are either with the women's own mothers or other relatives, or they're in foster care. And it's only 20 percent that are—or 19 percent—that are in foster care. But still it's real obvious that it's the women that are the bulwark for the children retaining some kind of family unit and not the men.

Sir, you've had your hand up for a while.

QUESTION: I'm Burt Seidman, National Council of Senior Citizens. The question I have is, there hasn't been any mention of healthcare. And I wonder if you could comment on that question, particularly healthcare as both a cause and a result, the unmet healthcare needs, as both a cause and a result of homelessness.

MS. BURT: I'm not sure any of us can comment on them as a cause. There's no question that they're a result. There are data in this study about access to medical care. People don't give healthcare or disability reasons, often, as a major reason why they became homeless. But there are very high levels of both, especially upper respiratory, you know, the catchable, communicable diseases that they now have, and a very high level of chronic conditions, especially related to arthritis, rheumatism, problems walking, not having a leg, or not having some part of yourself. The people do use healthcare services, but there are—I can't remember what exactly it is, but I think it's somewhere around a quarter of people who needed to see a doctor in the past year and were not able to. And dental care comes out as about the highest need mentioned by providers, as well as—by providers, but not actually by clients. But inability to see a dentist is even higher than inability to see a doctor. And I'm going to ask people who have actually direct service experience to talk about that.

MS. MARSHALL: The point I would add to that is in the instance of children in almost any kind of counter-developmental structure is impeded by being in a homeless shelter. There are studies that say that kids who spend time in shelter have developmental delays, diminished cognitive ability, and obviously, as Marti was saying, the incidence of communicable diseases. I would also point out that health is not just physical. That it has to have a very deleterious effect on children who start out their lives in homeless shelters. I think that the impact is immeasurable.

QUESTION: My name is Dan Singer, I live in the District of Columbia. I have a question that was raised by part of the statistical presentation. At one point you multiplied a number by 11 or by 51. And my question to you is, if I am in a homeless shelter for 90 days, how many ticks am I out of 2.3 million.

MS. BURT: One.

QUESTION: Just one. Thank you.

MS. BURT: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Did the proportion of children among the—I'm Andy Mollison, I'm with Cox Newspapers.

MS. BURT: Okay.

QUESTION: That wasn't bad. I finally remembered. Is the proportion of children the same in both the '87 and '96 samples?

MS. BURT: No, it's higher in '96. In '87 there were—10 percent of the households were households with children, and 23 percent of the people were in those households, of which—don't hold me to this, if you really want it I'll look it up, but I think it was 9 percent were the adults and 14 percent were the children. And now you're looking at 34 percent who are in—with the October estimate—34 percent who are either the adults or the children in the households, and the kids are about 21 percent of that.

QUESTION: A little—am I right?

MS. BURT: So it's up.

QUESTION: It would be safe to say, if we don't have the exact numbers, that they've gone from under one-fourth to more than one-third?

MS. BURT: Yes. Not the kids themselves, [but] the households, the people in the households with children. The kids themselves have gone from about 14 or 15 percent to 23 or 24 percent.

QUESTION: And can I ask an absolutely unrelated follow-up?

MS. BURT: Certainly. So it's not a follow-up, but you may ask another question.

QUESTION: There was another group that had a conference this morning, a news conference this morning, at which they objected to the custom in some 40 cities of sending children from shelters to separate schools rather than to what I would call the normal public schools. Is there any indication at all that there might or might not be any difference in the results if you sent children who were being served by agencies to school or if you didn't send them to school, or if you educated them right in the shelter, do you have any indication about which is preferable?

MS. MARSHALL: I don't have any indication other than a gut feeling, and my gut feeling tells me that you educate children as close to home as you can. That you present as few disruptions to their lives. And I don't think that it serves any child well to be set apart in one more way from society. So, we very strongly advocate for neighborhood-based services that would allow children to be educated in the schools that they're used to.

MS. BURT: And, I think that there is—look at the behavior of parents, parents will leave any child they can possibly get somebody to take who is old enough to be left with a relative or a friend and who is a school-age child, they will try to leave in the neighborhood where that child went to school so they can continue school uninterrupted and not have the stigma of being perceived to be homeless. So, I mean, parents are certainly operating on the assumption that it's better for their kids to have that continuity and not have a stigma of either being completely separate or being a new person in a school where it is clear that the reason you are there is because you are in the local homeless shelter.

QUESTION: Tanya Tull from Beyond Shelter in Los Angeles, California. I just want to say that I think there's some misinformation that I just heard. I've been doing this directly in the City of Los Angeles since 1983, and in 1987 most of the homeless service providers for children and families, homeless families with children, was through FEMA voucher. There were very few, no family shelters so to speak. And those numbers were never counted in the statistics. And I believe you could go back into the numbers, into the statistics from the mid-to-late '80s, and find that many of us, especially in big urban centers, New York and Los Angeles and Chicago, that at least a third of the homeless that we were serving were women with children, homeless families with children, and unfortunately because they weren't in institutional shelter type settings and often not going to the soup kitchens, they were not counted.

Obviously the numbers are up and they're worsening, but at one point there were some good studies out that, in cities like New York and Los Angeles, in some cases up to 40 percent of the homeless on any given night were women and children. So it's not that it's gotten—it's gotten worse, it hasn't gotten better, but it hasn't gotten that much worse over the past 10 years.

MS. BURT: Well, except that it's the same percentage of a larger number.

QUESTION: Yes. I do think it was a higher number 10 years ago than was just said.

MS. ROMAN: I guess I was just going to make a general observation, even though we're going back a couple of questions, but connecting to the education, that even though we're talking about characteristics that people have, healthcare and so forth and whether they cause homelessness, I think we have to just be careful, again, that the overrepresentation of some of these characteristics in this data is in part due to the fact that it's a point-in-time data, a point-in-time study, and not a longitudinal study. And also it doesn't compare a lot of these characteristics in the homeless population with characteristics, similar characteristics, in the poor population. It compares them more with those characteristics in the general population. So the homeless population mirrors, and this is what Sue was saying, in most respects, the poor population, and where it differs is, we think, in one area is the area that Jim mentioned, which is the support networks, is definitely people who have either exhausted or don't have for some reason support networks, and I think that goes to your question about education and why a lot of us in this area think that it's not so good to isolate kids in homeless-only schools, that these links to communities through schools and other kinds of community-based institutions are very important to preventing further homelessness or helping people get stabilized.

MS. BURT: I think we can take one or two more questions and then we have to wrap it up.

QUESTION: Al Millikan with Washington Independent Writers. In the last two years, my church—from pressure from other neighborhood churches and the police, in fact the church is not far from this location we're at now—agreed to stop allowing homeless to stay overnight on the steps and stairwells and entranceways. And it seems to me that, from my own observation, the police and those that were working with them, are able to keep the face of homelessness away from the general population in a much more successful way than in the past. I'm wondering if you would agree with that.

A second point I wanted to ask about is, recently I heard Randall Robinson of TransAfrica talking about his book on reparations, and he's talking about pressuring the Democratic Party in a similar way that he did over the issue of South Africa in the past, and this is dealing with reparations to Afro-Americans. And I'm just wondering, with the legacy of slavery, where a part of our population weren't allowed to have homes and where families were separated against their own wishes or desires, could that be a factor of some of the statistics that you're mentioning now? For example, you mentioned [that] economically there didn't seem to be a difference between Hispanics and Afro-Americans, but among the homeless there was a significant difference.

MS. BURT: I'm not going to touch that, either or any part of it. If anybody else would like to?...

MS. ROMAN: No, thank you.

MS. BURT: Okay. Are there any other questions, or shall we consider this over? There's one way in the back.

QUESTION: Hi, Marsha Martin. Marti, Nan, and Sue, I have a question for all of you, and it comes from something that all three of you said; actually I'll start with Sue and go back. But, you know, Marti, you titled this Homelessness in a Booming Economy, and this administration has really undertaken to ensure that our economy booms, and communities have things to do to help support it, whether it's enterprise zones—I'm sorry, empowerment zones—enterprise communities, and now the new markets initiative that's trying to sort of go at the mainstream, heavy-impacted communities.

And, Nan, you talked about the challenges of sort of homeless and mainstream, and sort of do you fix one or fix the other.

And then Sue, though, gives us an example of an innovative demonstration program that was able to help a homeless service system turn its focus around and go from emergency to more transitional to more supportive services.

And I'm wondering if there's a way, with all of these efforts, where we've seen government assist, is there a way to really tie this conversation to the challenges of the economy or to the mainstream, or how do we link this data, how do we link this information, how do you take your numbers and your needs and link it to services and take it back to where we want to go? The innovative product in D.C. has had an impact, and Sue left us with, we're at that gray area of homeless services and programs for poor people. I know Urban Institute is looking at lots of other initiatives in terms of welfare and social welfare policy, et cetera, and the impact, and blah, blah, blah.

I would like all three of you to say something about, what do we do now?

MS. MARSHALL: I think that one of the things we do as a practitioner is not spend homeless dollars when someone else has a dollar I can spend.

MS. ROMAN: And you can get them to spend it.

MS. MARSHALL: And we are in the process of going through a strategic planning exercise that includes mainstream systems, the substance abuse agencies. The example I gave about the mental health system, we won't spend our housing dollars if we can connect to the mental health system. So I think the whole coordination between the service needs that we have and mainstream programs needs to be paramount. I think people who are in positions of leadership, both at local and national levels should make as requirements of these programs talk about coordination, talk about interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems.

MS. ROMAN: I would say there are three big things we could do to make a difference. One is, we need this kind of data at every local level, because there's no way we can end homelessness if we don't know who is becoming homeless and why they're becoming homeless, how long they're staying in the system, and what the outcomes of that intervention are. So this is important national information, but every local jurisdiction needs to have this so that they can say, look, here's where we are now, and here is where we want to be with zero. And what do we need to do to get there.

Second is this prevention thing that Sue is talking about: As the study shows and as we talked about before, these people are interacting already with the range of mainstream services that are failing them essentially. So we've got to push this problem back up into those mainstream services. We've got to incentivize them to take care of these very poor, very troubled, complicated people. And if incentives don't work, then we've got to provide disincentives to allowing them to have the bad outcomes they're having now.

And then the third thing is, we need to break the population down into manageable pieces that we can do something about. Instead of taking people who are chronically homeless and chronically ill and housing them in the shelter system, which is inappropriate for them, very expensive to us because they not only live in the shelter system, they also interact with the criminal justice, emergency rooms, and so forth, at tremendous cost. We should be doing for them permanent supportive housing. It's cost-effective, it's 85 percent successful with the most disabled and chronically homeless people. It's the opposite of what we are doing.

Most families, as the data shows, and other data studies have shown, left to their own devices, use the system appropriately as a crisis intervention model, and exit. The major model we use, is to keep them for a long time in the system; we should taking a housing-first approach, connect them with the mainstream services, and move on from there. So there are ways that we can segment this population and make much more progress if we don't take it as a monolithic whole, but if we look at it in segments. So I think if we did better data collection, focused more on prevention, and then took a housing-first approach, not allowing people to become this other thing, which we call homeless, but getting them quickly back into housing, which we know we can do, we could end this. We could end this in a relatively short period of time.

MS. BURT: There are a couple of comments that I would like to add to that. One is that we rely, everybody relies on the big cities. The big cities are not, however, the instigators of all the homelessness that ends up being found there. And among the more interesting data from NSHAPC are information about movement from where you first became homeless to where we found you. And that movement is universally bigger, toward bigger. If you are in a rural area, you move to the fringe of an urban area. If you're on the fringe of an urban area, you move into the center city. If you're in a small center city, you move to a bigger center city. People are not necessarily leaving because they're drawn to services, but they're leaving in part because there are no services and in part because they are in trouble where they are, and no one is helping them.

So some of the smaller communities also need to get on board here and not just ship their homeless people off to the big city. Smaller communities are actually, in many ways, very interesting models for doing things more collaboratively, in part because they're not just huge systems, if they've decided to do it. There are some stellar programs and systems in rural areas and in smaller towns for helping people. And you talk to homeless people who have been homeless in rural areas, they will tell you the smaller the town the warmer the heart. They get more help when everybody knows everybody, if they're willing to help you. But if they've decided they don't have any homeless people here, and they give them a bus ticket, then you're out of luck.

So you could stop some of this migration and then disconnection from the people who would help you if we had more assistance at the local level.

But I would also say that for 10 years now we haven't dared to say that housing subsidies would help. But if we fundamentally deal with this as a problem of housing, there's definitely people with vulnerabilities. It's a combination of poverty, housing, and other vulnerabilities. And so, the people that fall off are the people that have lots of strikes against them. They don't have supportive families, they don't have support from the very frayed social safety net. They don't have skills and abilities. And they do have disabilities. When you have four or five of those things going against you, any crisis can put you on the street, and it's very hard to get back out.

So if we start with the idea of offering or making available housing, if we just did the worst-case housing needs, we would be solving a fair amount of this problem, and we could then help people with skills, then help people get jobs, then help people beat their substance abuse problems, or perhaps they wouldn't need to be drinking quite so much because they would have some other things going for them.

So I think that we have every single support system in this country is going in the direction of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. And, as one of my favorite Minnesota state administrators said, you know where you land when you pull yourself up by your bootstraps. So what we need to be supplying, again in her imagery, is ropes or ladders that will help people with support to climb up and beyond where they now are. And we have systematically been removing those. So I think that part of the consequence of that that we see is that we don't have less homelessness.

Thank you all.

Return to February 2000

Topics/Tags: | Housing

Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact [email protected].

If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.

Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

Email this Page