WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2007
Good afternoon. I am so pleased all of you could come.
Early on in this Administration, President Bush set a goal to end chronic homelessness in America.
Today I am happy to announce some really encouraging news about the scope of chronic homelessness in the United States. Across this country, local communities tell us they're seeing a nearly 12 percent drop in the number of individuals who literally call the streets their home...and that's in just one year! That's nearly 20,000 fewer persons living on our streets.
This is good news, indeed. It shows that the hard work of thousands of people is paying off...that our efforts can make a powerful, positive difference.
Why are we seeing this decline? Well, the data seem to indicate that the investment by HUD and local communities is working. HUD grants are creating more permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.
Last year alone, approximately $286 million in HUD funding directly targeted programs helping individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. In the President's new budget, we are seeking $1.6 billion for HUD's Continuum of Care homeless assistance grant programs.
Of course, we still have a long way to go to reach President Bush's goal of ending chronic homelessness. There are still people living on the streets, many of them are mentally ill, addicted, or physically disabled.
These are the most vulnerable among us...the hardest-to-house and the hardest-to-serve. These are people who are homeless for more than a year or who continue to cycle back into homelessness. They are people who need serious, sustained assistance to overcome their homelessness.
Please, make no mistake. Today's announcement is just a progress report. Yes, we are winning some of the battles, but homelessness remains a problem. Every person removed from chronic homelessness is a victory for that person and the community.
We have built constructive and successful partnerships in virtually every city and county. This has been a bipartisan, multi-governmental, public and private partnership of immense design and operation.
One important tool in this effort has been HUD's first-ever Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Through the data collection for the report, and the subsequent analysis of that data, we are learning a great deal about the demographics of homelessness. Prior to the report, we had a hard time figuring out if national or local programs were working...we had a tough time just trying to figure out where the homeless might be on a given night.
Now, with this report, we have a clearer picture that gives us greater insight into the needs of the homeless. With this data, we can now better direct resources to those in need.
While we have a lot of work ahead of us to eliminate chronic homelessness in America, these numbers show remarkable progress is being made. I know you will want more information. I have asked Mark Johnston and Ann Oliva to join us today. They are the experts on the data. I leave you in their capable hands.
Again, thank you all for coming.