The idea of home, of a sense of place, is a vital thread in conservative thought. It's crucial to the conservative emphasis on community, family, and local institutions. Yet amid the incessant discussions on this theme, it's easy to forget how such a basic good as a literal home is unobtainable for so many homeless Americans. On any night in the U.S. there are roughly 400,000 to 650,000
100,000 Homes is a remarkable grassroots campaign that has been trying to house the most at-risk homeless people throughout the U.S. for the past four years. They recently hit their goal of housing over 100,000 by July 2014. To achieve this goal, they have been working with private charities, business people, community leaders, volunteers, and governments across the nation. They have focused on coordinating the efforts of pre-existing and new organizations and implementing a grounded, systematic approach to helping the homeless.
While their goal is ambitious, the people involved in the 100,000 Homes campaign are realists. One hundred thousand is a large number, but they are focused solely on housing, "no strings attached." In a fascinating "60 Minutes" special (watch it here and here), one of the group's spokespeople explained that their approach is not about fairness, but about a practical consideration of alternatives. They have specifically targeted the chronically homeless (those who are not transitioning quickly) for aid. Offering these people a permanent home is actually more cost effective for the community than allowing them to remain homeless, since their use of hospital, police, and other community services is much greater when they are living on the street.