Housing First

On Point this morning deals with a national program called Housing First, which provides housing for the chronically homeless. The questions from listeners and remarks from critics (one in Washington calls the program “Bunks for Drunks”) seem to mostly concern whether the other conditions often associated with homelessness–alcaholism, mental illness, and drug addiction, for example–should be treated first, with housing as a sort of “reward,” as well as the question of whether non-chronically homeless individuals, particularly the young, the elderly, or those with families, should have priority over single people.

My question, though, is whether programs like these do anything to address the underlying causes of homelessness, rather than the symptoms. The host did briefly mention de-institutionalization, which I consider a tragic period in our history, but what about other factors?

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