President Obama last year announced an ambitious new plan to end homelessness in the United States. The plan builds on previous administrations’ work to combat homelessness as well as on existing state and local programs. When announcing the plan, the president noted the impact homelessness has on people and society, stating, “Since the founding of our country, ‘home’ has been the center of the American dream. … without a safe, affordable place to live, it is much tougher to maintain good health, get a good education or reach your full potential.”
The president’s plan has four key goals:
- End chronic homelessness in five years
- Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years
- Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children in ten years
- Set a path to ending all types of homelessness
The president’s plan references gay and transgender Americans, particularly unaccompanied youth, and one of the plan’s goals is to make information more readily available to all levels of government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and the private sector when working with the gay and transgender community. This inclusion is an important step forward, considering that gay and transgender Americans were essentially absent from previous government strategies to end homelessness in the United States.
Yet the federal government should be much more explicit in its efforts to tackle gay and transgender homelessness if homelessness overall is to be eventually eradicated. The reason: Research suggests that gay and transgender youth and adults are at a higher risk of homelessness compared to other homeless Americans. Gay and transgender youth often face rejection at home and at school, leading to a series of failures in social safety nets that often ends with youth on the streets.
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