Atlas Network partner Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) recently embarked on a major initiative to develop and promote a more effective, holistic approach to homelessness. Their “People First” plan addresses the root causes of homelessness—a stark contrast to the prevailing but failed “Housing First” approach which focuses only on the symptoms. While it has faced strong opposition from those who advocate failed policies, including many in the Biden administration, TPPF’s initiative has achieved a legislative win in its effort to improve Texas’ homelessness policy. On June 15, the Texas state legislature passed House Bill 1925, which institutes a state-wide ban on public camping. TPPF supported this bill as it helps take homeless individuals out of harm’s way and improves their access to aid programs. This win represents one step toward creating a system that addresses every homeless person’s individual needs, rather than assuming one size can fit all.
In support of House Bill 1925 and as a part of a larger strategy to move Texas away from ineffective “House First” policies toward a better “People First” approach, Texas Public Policy Foundation worked to educate both policymakers and the public on the merits of People First policies. At their 2021 Policy Orientation event, TPPF hosted a panel discussion on the causes of and solutions for homelessness, which featured a policy expert, policymakers, and two formerly homeless individuals. Speakers explained how public camping is detrimental to the homeless as it provides only a short-term fix and limits their long-term potential. TPPF held another panel discussion on the topic after Austin voters passed a city-level ban on public camping earlier this year. Combined, the panels have drawn over 2,000 views in person and online.
As part of its initiative, TPPF has also produced a three-minute explainer video, outlining the importance and effectiveness of People First, which has attracted more than 29,000 views across social media platforms. The foundation is also in the process of writing a white paper outlining the destructive outcomes of Housing First policy.
Atlas Network supported Texas Public Policy Foundation’s “People First” campaign with a grant.