Ken Kirkey, Chief Partnership Officer, All Home
In April 2021 the Regional Impact Council (RIC) launched the Regional Action Plan (RAP) to address the Bay Area’s longstanding and expanding unsheltered homelessness crisis.
The RAP sets an audacious goal of reducing unsheltered homelessness in the nine-county Bay Area by 75% by 2024. Members of the RIC embraced this goal because of the sheer magnitude of suffering in the region, made even more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out early in the RIC’s work.
Since the RAP’s release, the staff of All Home and our RIC partners have engaged in 70+ public forums and found significant support for the plan’s approach to solving homelessness in our region. The RAP has been endorsed by the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, adopted by three counties (Contra Costa, Solano, and San Mateo), three Continuums of Care (the homelessness response systems in each county), BART, and several cities.
The RAP’s signature approach is the 1-2-4 Framework for Homelessness Solutions that aligns jurisdictions around a comprehensive system of simultaneous investments. For every one investment in interim housing units, there should be two investments in permanent housing solutions and four homelessness prevention interventions.
However, this is not a one size fits all approach. More important than the exact ratio, which will vary across counties and communities according to their local needs and circumstances, is the importance of concurrent investments in all three interventions. The Regional Action Plan also outlines eight strategic priorities with detailed call to actions, organized around the strategic pillars of House & Stabilize, Prevent, and Thrive.
The following image shows how the 1-2-4 Framework enables a homelessness response system to get ahead of the problem with prevention, and move people off the streets and into permanent homes as quickly as possible. The second image shows examples of all three types of 1-2-4 interventions.
Homelessness is a complex problem. Although there is no single solution to solve it, it is absolutely solvable. At All Home, we firmly believe that we’ll only make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring if we invest at scale in all three parts of the 1-2-4 Framework.
Interim housing is especially important in the Bay Area because we don’t have the deeply affordable permanent housing, or permanent supportive housing, that we need to house the more than 35,000 people who are currently unsheltered in our region. The street cannot be the waiting room for a permanent place to call home, especially when those permanent homes take years to approve and build.
Bringing people into a permanent home is a proven approach to ending homelessness that enables people to rebuild their lives. The Bay Area needs to do much more to quickly build deeply affordable housing, with supportive services for those who need it. People with extremely low incomes belong in the Bay and help make it great – our region’s culture and economy depend on enabling our neighbors to stabilize and stay here.
While it’s common sense that we will only end homelessness if we can prevent it in the first place, we have a long way to go to create comprehensive homelessness prevention services and infrastructure across our region. The fact is that we know how to solve homelessness – we do it everyday for individuals and families in every county. But people fall into homelessness faster than we can help them out of it, and until we turn that around we’ll never get the problem under control.
If all three of these solutions were operating effectively at scale, our homelessness response systems would work better. Widespread homelessness prevention would reduce the number of people being pushed into homelessness and needing to use the system. Interim housing would help more people avoid or limit their time being unsheltered, and we know that the longer people are unsheltered (i.e. chronically homeless), the more difficult it can be for them to stabilize and find permanent housing. Chronically homeless individuals are most likely to need Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), which is the most resource-intensive form of permanent housing. So, interim housing can help limit and prevent chronic homelessness, thereby reducing demand for PSH. Obviously the more permanent affordable homes or housing vouchers/subsidies there are, the less time someone will need to spend in interim housing, freeing up spots for others in need.
While we have made great strides in winning support for the Regional Action Plan and the 1-2-4 Framework, implementing the plan across all nine counties is a major undertaking. Meeting the goal of a 75% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in three years is only possible once the region aligns with and invests in the 1-2-4 Framework. Some counties and cities have begun that process, but there is much more to do. Every resident, neighborhood, city, and county has a role to play to get us there, and we hope you will join us. Take the pledge and stay connected with All Home, or let us know if you’re ready to get more involved.