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by Peter Moskos

July 29, 2008

Fewer homeless nationwide

This is encouraging news reported in New York Times:
The number of chronically homeless people living in the nation’s streets and shelters has dropped by about 30 percent — to 123,833 from 175,914 — between 2005 and 2007.
The officials attribute much of the decline to the “housing first” strategy that has been promoted by the Bush administration and Congress and increasingly adopted across the country.

In that approach, local officials place chronically homeless people into permanent shelter — apartments, halfway houses or rooms — and then focus on treating addiction and mental and health problems.
Until cities and states began adopting the program, many of those people seemed to shuttle endlessly between shelters, hospitals and the street.

Homeless shouldn't be a police problem. But as always, the buck stops with police. And if nobody does deal with homeless, then it becomes a police problem.

One of the silver lining's of the Eastern District was there wasn't much a visible homeless population. I guess that's the advantage to a neighborhood with so many vacant buildings. A few of the vacants were squatted quite nicely. More commonly, squatting would eventually result in a drug-related fire.

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