Homelessness is not a simple problem affecting some but is a complex housing issue that has many causes, solutions and outcomes.
In order to address these causes, solutions and outcomes, communities across the nation have created their own Homeless Assistance Systems. A Homeless Assistance System typically consists of six basic elements, as follows:
- A system of outreach, engagement, and assessment for determining the needs and conditions of individuals or families who are homeless, and necessary support to identify, prioritize, and respond to persons who are chronically homeless
- Emergency shelters with appropriate supportive services to help ensure that homeless individuals and families receive adequate emergency shelter and referral to necessary service providers or housing search counselors
- Rapid re-housing to help persons with lower barriers who are homeless successfully move to, and stay in, conventional housing units
- Transitional housing with appropriate supportive services to help homeless individuals and families who need more assistance prepare to make the transition to permanent housing and independent living
- Permanent housing, or permanent supportive housing, to help meet the long-term needs of homeless individuals and families
- Prevention strategies, which play an integral role in a community’s plan to eliminate homelessness by effectively intervening for persons at risk of homelessness or those being discharged from public systems—e.g., corrections, foster care, mental health, and other institutions—so that they do not enter the homeless system.