While the housing element of a comprehensive plan is the logical, and common, place to find policies that seek to address homelessness, the APA notes that many communities are now adopting stand-alone action plans to end the persistent crisis. The APA describes the common approach found in many stand-alone plans, which are gaining in use due to increased federal support, and offer links to a number of relevant examples, from Baltimore to New Orleans and Seattle.
"The most common time horizon for these stand-alone plans is 10 years," says the APA, "and many plans emphasize a 'housing first' approach, which provides permanent shelter as quickly as possible. This approach is based on the belief that homeless people are more likely to overcome their underlying problems if they are relieved from the stress associated with lack of stable housing. Many of the plans also focus on prevention with strategies targeted at ensuring sufficient affordable housing and providing assistance to people at risk of becoming homeless. With the recent economic downtown many plans encourage collaboration to ensure efficient use of valuable resources."