Dear Mr. President-elect:
Let me offer our congratulations on your election to the country’s highest office. You have an incredible challenge ahead of you; though, I do not doubt that you and your team are up to it.
Your campaign announced your plan for investing in our Communities through housing. We are all too keenly aware of the crisis that permeates the entire nation— adequate housing is not sufficiently available. The programs that are supposed to be a social safety net are often ineffective and woefully underfunded. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are not functional as they stand.
Historic injustices need to be addressed on a systemic level. It is not enough to say that you’ll “[end] redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market” without also addressing the horrific ramifications those practices have already created. No one can turn back time, but we need to improve equity across the board—including prioritizing initiatives and programs that undo the incredible damage that has been visited upon our communities.
Additionally, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness needs to be under adequate leadership and more fully empowered. We know that interagency cooperation is vital and bold leadership is needed to ensure that it works—historically this has been a painful lesson, let’s learn from it.
They need leadership that truly understands the landscape—last month, they put out a report entitled “Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness.” The report was misguided and actively harmful to the public, at best. Though we agree that we face a national crisis of homelessness, the report mischaracterizes how programs and reforms interacted. However, we do agree we need an expanded toolbox and that a “one-size-fits-all approach can actually harm many populations experiencing homelessness.” We strenuously disagree that the report lays out a workable pathway.
We are looking to your administration to make substantive progress towards systemic change and to put an end to the kernel of truth that gives rise to the hideous joke that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to end homelessness by defining it out of existence.
Housing insecurity and homelessness impact all of us to an extent—and we all deserve better. It is our moral obligation to ensure the dignity of the individual. Part of that is putting an end to onerous requirements that act as a barrier to resources by individuals and families in need.
The United States has the capacity to end homelessness once and for all—from knowledge and intelligence to ingenuity and financial resources. Let that be part of your administration’s legacy. We can save money and save lives—the status quo must go.
We call on you to enact a housing-first, health-based approach to ending homelessness throughout the United States. This is why Time For Homes exists, and we look forward to working with your administration towards our common goal.
James Ryan | President
Malachi Demin | Vice-President