By the time this post appears, you may have already broken your new year’s resolution. (It’s okay, I didn’t have eight glasses of water today). Maybe you struggled because your resolution wasn’t a good fit. Most planning experts recommend goals that are SMART — meaning ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. This is what makes the difference between “be healthier” and “go to the gym four times a week and replace one salty snack with fruit,” and it has an impressive effect on how long individuals can work towards their goals and how successful they might be. In the spirit of the New Year, I took some time this week to read up on the lofty goals of cities across America as they seek to end homelessness. Besides being a season for new beginnings, January also marks the sixth birthday of Baltimore’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness — so as the new year unfolds, I’ll be asking whether we’re on track to meet that target. Below are some of the most exciting goals and plans that could help end homelessness in 2014:
- Cincinnati: In Ohio, three new shelters will be added this year, priced at more than $30 million. For the first time, Cincinnati can foresee a time when it will have enough beds for all of the homeless citizens in the city.
- Fort Lauderdale: A small scale but comprehensive program has started in this Florida city, which received funding for twenty-two units of affordable housing for highly vulnerable homeless individuals. In the state with the most crimes against people experiencing homelessness in the country, this small program is much needed to protect and house homeless Flordians.
- Utah: The state of Utah has adopted an aggressive Housing First approach to moving the chronically homeless off the streets. This plan is estimated to save taxpayers in the state thousands per participant while delivering innumerable health benefits to those who can move into housing. This puts Utah on track for eliminating homelessness by 2015.
- Pennsylvania: While it is important to pay attention the exciting new policy ideas surrounding homelessness, there is always more to learn. In order to improve the available knowledge surrounding this issue, the state of Pennsylvania has proposed a comprehensive study on the best ways to end homelessness. With this new information, New Years Day a year from now could look drastically different in the Race to End Homelessness.
Clearly, some strong goal setting techniques are starting to deliver the desired results of decreased homelessness across the U.S. Unfortunately, these successes aren’t nationally met with the praise and support necessary to continue the positive outcomes. Proposed budget cuts in 2014 have the potential to curtail the nation’s progress toward ending homelessness. These cuts are the policy equivalent of rewarding weight loss with a celebratory Big Mac. Even if we can’t all make it to the gym or can’t quite quit smoking, I hope the Race to End Homelessness is one resolution that will last past New Year’s Day in 2015.