Stimulus Update: The American Rescue Plan Is Expanding. Here's How

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  • More than half a million Americans are currently homeless.
  • The Biden administration aims to extend the American Rescue Plan to help 25% of them secure housing and become financially stable.
  • Reducing homelessness is good for society as a whole.

Some may consider homelessness an eyesore. For those living on the streets, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Homelessness has long been a problem in American society. According to World Population Review, there are more than half a million homeless people in the U.S. According to a White House announcement released on Dec.19, the Biden administration has a plan for reducing homelessness by at least 25% over the next two years. In short, the goal is to help more than 100,000 Americans currently living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, or seeking shelter to have a place to call their own.

How the American Rescue Plan plays a role

And here's where the American Rescue Plan comes into play. The American Rescue Plan, which passed in 2021 shortly after Biden became president, provided tens of billions of dollars to Americans in need of rental assistance. Now, the federal government wants to release additional American Rescue Plan funds to create affordable housing on the state level and help local leaders cut down on homelessness.

To be clear, it will need to be a joint effort between the federal government, state and local leaders, faith communities, businesses, philanthropic sectors, and nonprofit organizations to make the administration's goal a reality.

The problem is real

No matter where you live, there's a good chance you've seen an uptick in homelessness. In addition to people sleeping under bridges and panhandling for money to get by, the homeless have little to no access to healthcare. In turn, this leads to higher rates of illness, including asthma, tuberculosis, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, on average, homeless people die 12 years sooner than the general population.

Even if the push gets 25% of the homeless population off the streets, it ends up benefiting the public as a whole.

Support, services, and the best chance for success

According to the president, "My plan offers a roadmap for not only getting people into housing but also ensuring that they have access to the support, services, and income that allow them to thrive. It is a plan that is grounded in the best evidence and aims to improve equity and strengthen collaboration at all levels."

It's tough to argue the fact that homelessness is a problem or to complain that American Rescue Plan recipients might tuck any assistance they receive away into a bank account. These are, literally, the most desperate among us. As we continue to celebrate this holiday season, perhaps we can pull together long enough to wish this endeavor success.

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