Unsheltered homelessness has been on the rise in the United States for the past few decades with recent dramatic increases in several large metropolitan areas. There are, as with most social problems, many causes that have sparked the growth of street dwelling, encampments, and people living in places not meant for human habitation. A lack of accessible behavioral health support, an ever-widening gap in income disparities, and a severe dearth of accessible and affordable housing are leading causes. Additionally, households have been squeezed out of the housing market while housing crisis response systems have not kept up with the demand.
The Cloudburst Group, along with key partners, has been at the forefront of identifying the crisis of unsheltered homelessness as well as helping to identify solutions. Although the conversation around unsheltered homelessness has grown over several years, Cloudburst helped to amplify the need for a focused response as we worked to curb the Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego, CA. Through organizing community supports and governance toward this issue, it became evident that the same lessons learned in San Diego could apply to other cities where unsheltered homelessness was becoming more widespread and visible.
Cloudburst has been contracted to work on a new nine city initiative launched by HUD aimed at gaining a better understanding of the issues surrounding unsheltered homelessness and encampments. Most of the cities are in the Western United States, where numbers of people without shelter have spiked in recent years. The initiative will address an issue that has historically been removed from the broader homelessness crisis response system. It will be aimed at preventing people from falling into unsheltered homelessness while helping those who are currently unsheltered move back into their communities as quickly as possible by identifying community specific solutions to housing access and stability. If unsheltered homelessness is not addressed and curbed swiftly and thoughtfully, the consequences for people living without their basic needs being met in communities across the country could prove increasingly dire. Cloudburst will continue to work alongside our national partners to be a leader in addressing this challenge.
Written by Melanie Zamora, MPA, Cloudburst Senior Analyst. Ms. Zamora works in a variety of topic areas including Unsheltered & Encampments, Coordinated Entry Systems, Rapid Rehousing Best Practices and others, all with the aim of ending homelessness thoughtfully and immediately.