ATD Blog

Homelessness: A National Security Threat

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In a forum published in the winter 2011 issue of The Public Manager—“Federal Leaders Open Doors to Tackle Homelessness”—Jeanne Van Vlandren and Myra Howze Shiplett offer a unique perspective on a hidden threat to national security and how the U.S. government is responding. This is a national security threat because it challenges the whole nation as it did in September 11, after disasters, during economic recession. The authors’ introduction to the 3-article forum frames the nation’s homelessness problem as a threat—stemming at least in part from the lost productivity of roughly 650,000 people who are without housing, adequate healthcare, and stable employment.

Getting down to brass tacks, three divergent case illustrations describe efforts underway to respond to these challenges, including:

  • Shaun Donovan’s article, “Ending Homelessness in Our Time: Why Smart Government Is Key”—Shaun Donovan is U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. Previously, he was the commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in NYC. He created and implemented the biggest municipal affordable housing plan in America. Donovan argues that homelessness is a problem that can be fixed by partnering with state and local agencies as well as private and nonprofit organizations, keeping track of successfully-implemented projects, and using existing resources efficiently.
  • Barbara Poppe’s article, “Interagency Collaboration Moves U.S. Closer to Ending Homelessness”—Barbara Poppe is executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Poppe says USICH’s “Opening Doors” project aims to end homelessness by 2020. In her article she describes the project’s four goals: “1) End chronic homelessness by 2015, 2) prevent and end homelessness among veterans by 2015, 3) prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020, and 4) develop a plan to end all types of homelessness.” “Opening Doors” has 10 objectives and 52 strategies that include support of health, education, housing, and human service programs to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Frances Edwards article, “Homes Wiped Away by Natural Disasters”—Frances Edwards is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at San Jose State University. Formerly, she was the director of emergency preparedness for the City of San Jose for many years. Edwards discusses homelessness as a result of natural disasters. She gives examples of “disaster homelessness” and suggests preventive measures to reduce their effect on urban populations.

Read more in the winter 2011 issue of The Public Manager.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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