Allentown last year established a commission to study various initiatives to prevent and end homelessness in the community. Its task became even more urgent upon the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and then the eviction of a “tent city” encampment from the former city incinerator site, which is being redeveloped.
Following months of work, commission leaders Wednesday presented a final strategic plan to city council. It outlines five strategies:
- Prevent homelessness through rental assistance.
- Engage landlords willing to work with individuals and organizations to safely house individuals who are homeless or facing imminent homelessness.
- Explore various ways to expand housing options, including more permanent supportive housing, a year-round shelter, or transitional housing like tiny homes
- Identify new sources of funding that are sustainable long term.
- Consider implementing “Built for Zero”, a data-based program that creates a real-time, by-name database of individuals experiencing homelessness. Using the database, local agencies can learn more about the homeless population and figure out how to prioritize various interventions for different groups, such as homeless veterans or mothers (locally, nearly half of those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity are women and children).