Philip Mangano, Executive Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, came to Buffalo on Tuesday to give a keynote speech at the Ending Homelessness symposium sponsored by the WNY Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Alliance. The Buffalo News reports behind the jump.
Economic benefits spelled out in eliminating homelessness
By Jay Tokasz NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: 09/17/08 6:54 AM
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News
Federal official Philip F. Mangano says eliminating homelessness is about “ending the disgrace.”
Advocates for the homeless have long argued that eliminating homelessness is a moral imperative for Americans.
But a federal official Tuesday said that spelling out the economic benefits is far more persuasive in generating the political will necessary to get everyone into his or her own permanent home.
“There is no more powerful argument for political leaders,” said Philip F. Mangano, executive director of the U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “It’s about reducing costs and bringing more resources to the community.”
“We wish the moral and spiritual argument would have gotten it done, but it didn’t,” Mangano told more than 200 human service workers in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
Studies have indicated that about 10 percent of the homeless population is chronic – defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as being without a home for one year or longer or four or more times in a three-year period.
Yet the chronic group exhausts half the resources set aside for the homeless generally, such as a continued need for emergency services including shelter, medical and police services.
Mangano, keynote speaker for “Ending Homelessness: A Symposium in Buffalo, America’s Second-Poorest City,” has been credited with helping alter the national dialogue on homelessness by insisting on strategies that reduce the numbers of homeless people rather than relying on good intentions to manage the problem.
“It’s about moving beyond managing the crisis to ending the disgrace,” said Mangano, comparing the eradication of homelessness to other social movements that might have seemed impossible at one time, including the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and the end of racial segregation.
He stressed the need for communities to develop a 10- year plan to end chronic homelessness – something the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, in collaboration with dozens of agencies, created in 2006.
Mangano, appointed by President Bush, said that as federal investment in homeless programs grew to an all-time high, the number of street homeless has dipped from 176,000 in 2005 to 124,000 in 2007.
In addition to his talk, Mangano’s presence was important in bringing Mayor Byron W. Brown and County Executive Chris Collins together to address homelessness, said Penny Selmonsky, assistant supervising attorney of the public benefits unit for Neighborhood Legal Services and a symposium organizer.
“If they don’t come to the table on this, it’s just going to be the same old thing,” she said.
Both Collins and Brown spoke prior to Mangano’s talk.
“The quickest and best return for us is to deal with the issue of chronic homelessness,” said Collins. “We’re going to be looking for results.”