The Biden administration on Monday released a plan to counter homelessness that calls for teaching emergency shelters how to provide “gender-affirming” services to homeless people, and promoting “gender-affirming care” as an inclusive element of caring for homeless people.
“The key components to effective emergency shelter include culturally appropriate, gender-affirming, and specific, low-barrier access and housing-focused services aimed at rapid exits back to permanent housing,” according to the plan released by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
The plan calls on federal agencies to work with cities to provide “guidance, training, and technical assistance” on “inclusive models” such as “gender-affirming care” and harm reduction strategies for drug use. The plan encourages partnerships between housing, disability and health care groups to “create better resources for providers to connect program participants to culturally appropriate and gender-affirming housing resources.”
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The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness consists of 19 federal agencies and counts racial equity, decriminalization and inclusion as some of its core values.
The Biden administration has access to billions of dollars to fight homelessness. The American Rescue Plan signed in 2021 provided $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers and another $5 billion for a homelessness program.
There were 580,466 homeless people in 2020 — the largest mark since 2013, according to endhomelssness.org.
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The White House has promoted gender-affirming care as “lifesaving” in response to Republicans efforts at the state level to ban transgender treatments for minors.
The Biden administration launched the first federal harm reduction program this year, which provides $30 million in grants that can be used to purchase drug paraphernalia such as syringes and “smoking kits.” Its homelessness plan will “promote the integration of high impact harm reduction interventions within emergency shelters.”
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The homelessness plan also emphasizes the importance of establishing alternatives to the “criminalization of homelessness.” This includes a condemnation of efforts to clear homeless “tent cities” — a strategy enforced this year by heavily Democratic cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.
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“As elected leaders respond—and not always in the most effective ways—some have resorted to clearing encampments without providing alternative housing options for the people living in them,” the plan stated.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. The homelessness plan does not specify on what sort of transgender or harm reduction treatments are supported or encouraged.
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