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Biden wants to expand pandemic stimulus strategy to slash homelessness – Business Insider

President Biden set up a lofty goal post for tackling homelessness by a quarter over the next two years.
That’s according to an announcement from the White House this week, in which the Biden administration outlined its plan to build on homelessness-reducing initiatives started during the pandemic. 
Through the American Rescue Plan, the big pandemic stimulus package passed in early 2021 shortly after Biden became president, the administration provided tens of billions of dollars in rental assistance, which they highlighted in the full plan released by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The federal government wants to mobilize additional ARP funds to create more permanent affordable housing on a state level, the Biden administration said, and support local initiatives to curtail homelessness.
ARP money is already on track to secure permanent housing for more than 100,000 people through the end of 2022, the White House said. 
 “My plan offers a roadmap for not only getting people into housing but also ensuring that they have access to the support, services, and income that allow them to thrive,” Biden said in a statement. “It is a plan that is grounded in the best evidence and aims to improve equity and strengthen collaboration at all levels.”
And homeless advocacy groups are optimistic about the plan, praising the ambitiousness of the 25% figure, as well as the fact that the plan prioritizes funding homelessness prevention channels, such as through healthcare and foster care systems. 
“Moving people from homelessness to housing isn’t enough, and I think that it’s time to really focus on the aspects of preventing homelessness by dealing with larger housing problems,” Steve Berg, Chief Policy Officer at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told Insider. “There’s a lot the administration can do to make that happen.”
Data shows that high inflation, rent spikes that are only starting to fall off, and an unaffordable housing market have all contributed to rising homelessness in the US. 
And while evidence shows that the picture might be better overall since the start of the pandemic, the number of unhoused people is multiplying in expensive cities like Los Angeles and New York.
There’s reason to believe that the Biden administration’s plan to address these surges is a promising one, Berg said.
Berg said that NAEH was encouraged to see that Biden’s plan underscores the structural racism that disproportionately drives people of color into homelessness, highlighting the recent uptick in unhoused Latinx people in particular.
He also approved of the president’s intent to pay for housing, healthcare, and help people obtain work and benefits, which Berg said has had the most “positive impact” on homelessness over the last two decades. 
Berg also said that the explicit emphasis on providing resources for people suffering from disabilities — including mental illnesses — as well as pushing to reinforce entitlement programs like Medicaid is an important one. 
“In the past, the focus was a lot on what homeless programs are doing to get homeless people back in housing, which is very important and I don’t want to put that down,” he said. “The problem is that as the affordable housing situation gets worse, programs are doing a good job of getting a homeless person back into housing, but for every one of them, another two or three people become homeless.” 
Berg added that with this in mind, a 25% reduction by 2025 is a tall order, but a necessary one. 
“We have people dying on the streets all over the country, so now’s not the time to be meek about what we can accomplish,” he said. 
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