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Forums address breaking cycle of homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development along with the Interagency Council on the Homeless is sponsoring a series of eighteen regional forums throughout the country. The interactive forums are designed to fulfill President Bill Clinton's executive order to develop a coordinated federal plan to break the cycle of homelessness.

This plan will include legislative and administrative proposals to streamline or consolidate existing programs to help the homeless move from the streets to a stable, more self-sufficient way of life.

Another objective of the conference is to change the way government does business and fulfill HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros' pledge to "reinvent HUD." Instead of addressing problems with piecemeal categorical programs, Secretary Cisneros spoke of comprehensive, innovative solutions by building partnerships with the community.

The Baltimore Forum

The second regional forum was held in Baltimore on July 8 and 9. After introductory remarks by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Rep. Kweisi Mfume D-Md.) and Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Secretary Cisneros delivered the keynote address. He spoke of the agency's commitment to a bottom-up, rather than top-down style of management. He urged national and local leaders to work together to make efforts to help the less more effective. He asked conference participants to identify current gaps in services so that HUD is better able to meet the needs of its customers.

More specifically, Secretary Cisneros called for an end to government as an impediment to family cohesion and a reduction in the spatial separation which exists by race, income and class in many communities.

Forum Components

Throughout the conference, HUD and ICH sought to create a network of partnerships among federal, state and local governments and the public and private sector as well.

The forum featured concurrent workshops on topics such as homelessness, affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and economic development and empowerment.

A HUD representative moderatored each workshop. Panelists included locally elected officials as well as representatives from the private and non-profit sector. Panelists and conference participants discussed program dynamics and effective strategies for building communities together.

Conference participants also formed focus groups with experts from health, housing, education, employment, emergency services and mental health to systems and services needed to break the cycle of homelessness and prevent future homelessness.
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Author:Cohen, Jason
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jul 19, 1993
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