Catholic and nonprofit organizations working to combat homelessness say no two homeless cases are the same and that no single proposal can address the problem. But advocates for the homeless see hopeful signs in a federal plan unveiled June 22 by the Obama administration. The plan, titled "Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness," was released at the White House by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which has expressed concern over national data from 2008-09 that shows a significant rise in family homelessness. Described as "the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness," the plan was mandated by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, known as HEARTH, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2009. Among other things, the plan calls for strengthening partnerships—and forging new partnerships—among government agencies to help the more than 600,000 Americans who are sleeping on the streets and in shelters every night through existing housing, health care, education and human service programs. "I think the plan was well-written and has the potential to be effective," said Eileen Higgins, who is an associate division manager with family and parish support services of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Obama Offers New Plan for Homeless