It's been an exciting first half of the week for those keeping abreast of elected officials' efforts to combat homelessness.
On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled a proposal to dedicate $11 billion in the federal budget to fighting homelessness experienced by families with young children, The New York Times reported. That proposal is coming on the heels of the Obama administration's progress in reducing veteran homelessness, which since 2010 has dropped in the country by around 36 percent, according to the NYT.
Also on Tuesday, Los Angeles city and county officials approved ambitious plans to address homelessness in their area, which has the largest chronic homeless population in the country, the LA Times reported. The city's plan has committed as much as $100 million for homeless services this year, with housing programs estimated to cost over $1.85 billion over the next decade. The county's plan commits an additional $150 million over the next two years.
Closer to home, New York City held an annual count of its homeless people on Monday night, with city officials having lined up more than 3,500 volunteers to fan out across the city's streets and subway stations, The Associated Press reported. The results of the count, which aids the city in determining the services it needs to provide, hadn't been released as of mid-morning Wednesday.
Healthify's efforts to improve access to social programs for underserved and vulnerable populations comes with the hope that those programs will be adequately supported and managed by those in power.
In the face of the continuing crisis of homelessness, the federal government and governments in major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and NYC have focused on how they can help people with the most basic need of shelter. For example, out of Obama's proposed $11 billion in federal money, $8.8 billion would go to housing vouchers and $2.2 billion to more short-term assistance.
In NYC, where there has been an uptick in homelessness, Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to improve the city's shelters. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is focusing on helping the homeless get temporary and permanent housing. None of these efforts will come without costs, and as elected officials weigh the trade-offs of paying for those initiatives versus funding other causes, hard decisions may have to be made.