According to World Population Review, the United States has a population of single individuals who experience homelessness of 66.7%, and the remaining amount is families. In the past couple of years, the national population of people experiencing homelessness has increased by almost one percent. While many non-government organizations, like The HomeMore Project, have been trying to help tackle this issue, the Government is not doing much.
Now, you may wonder, what can the United States Government do to try to end homelessness? For starters, they could look into how other countries tackle this issue and emulate similar policies…
Finland’s approach is “Housing First” for individuals who experience it. In 2007, a plan was introduced to provide permanent housing, making solving health and social problems much less complicated. People who are homeless are given permanent housing on a typical lease that can range from a self-contained apartment to even a housing block with continuous support. Tenants pay rent and are qualified to receive housing benefits. Then, depending on their income, they can contribute to the cost of the support services that they receive, and local governments cover the rest.
Japan supports communities that experience homelessness by offering temporary housing provisions and employment advice to lower the amount of those that experience homelessness over the years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities of Tokyo — the city with the highest rates of homelessness – offered accommodations in vacant hotels. The Japanese Government implemented training courses for these individuals, incentives to encourage businesses to hire them as employees, subsidized rent options for housing, and implemented direct food aid.
Denmark’s percentage of individuals who experience homelessness is less than 0.1 percent because they implement the same “Housing First” policy as Finland. This policy aims to help keep people — specifically youth — off the streets. Denmark prioritizes these types of policies and makes funding for them a priority. For example, they gave these communities their cemeteries and employed volunteers that plan an infrastructure that benefits individuals who experience homelessness.
The next country that the U.S. could look to is Singapore. In 1960, Lee Kuan Yew and the People’s Action Party (PAP) put together a Housing and Development Board to build 51,031 new housing units over five years. This carried over to modern-day Singapore, where the government-built houses are affordable enough for many residents to purchase. The majority of the population owns their own homes, and most of them live in residential units that were government-built.
Last but not least, Canada. In 2009, Alberta, Canada, executed a project that provided people who were homeless a temporary shelter for ten days before the Government provided them with permanent housing. The Canadian Government implemented this to test and see if the temporary housing was as sustainable as they predicted it would be before they announced their efforts in ending homelessness. This plan makes financial sense of how countries can save money by giving someone a place to live.
These are just a few examples of where the United States can gain inspiration to try and solve the problem of homelessness and take care of its people. These five countries have all focused on housing their population and directing the necessary resources to give everyone a chance to live life.