denmark's model

When I first read this article comparing homelessness rates and policies in Denmark vs the United States, I was stunned to learn over 1% of Americans lack permanent housing on any given night. Even more shocking: Denmark has nearly eliminated homelessness by prioritizing a “housing first” approach paired with other comprehensive support programs. With so many Americans without permanent housing, it’s clear there are deep shortcomings in US policies on this issue. But I’m hopeful solutions are in reach if we can learn from and even follow Denmark’s model.

The article emphasizes that Denmark views securing housing for those experiencing homelessness as an urgent first priority, the necessary foundation before addressing other complex needs in peoples’ lives. Denmark backs this philosophy with transitional programs providing graduated steps–from the streets into temporary shelters, then subsidized yet permanent housing backed by sustained case management. This contrasts sharply with US policies like the McKinney-Vento Act (according to the article, it’s the only major legislation written that focuses on the homeless!) which, though initially promising, hasn’t delivered material reductions since being introduced. Simply put, Denmark matches its compassionate rhetoric on homelessness with accountable outcomes-driven programming.

Beyond prioritizing housing first, Denmark also sets quantifiable national reduction goals that guide funding decisions and on-the-ground strategy. And the country develops specialized permanent housing solutions for those unable to integrate into mainstream shelters – without mandates or conditions. This meets people where they are rather than judging or coercing.

What is the Untied States doing wrong? The answer is that we are not following in the footsteps of a nation that has achieved an astonishingly low rate of homelessness.

steps to emulate

America should emulate elements that make Denmark’s approach so effective:

1) Invest in specialized permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless modeled on Denmark’s tailored programming. This provides stability while “meeting people where they are.”

2) Implement transitional staircase models nationally to shift people from shelters into independent living, continuing support as needed. Tie funding to outcomes.

3) Fund housing case managers to broker lasting housing and coordinate across providers. Denmark shows us that one-on-one guidance is essential.

The article delivers a wake-up call on a solvable issue. Like Denmark, America has the resources to uphold the basic human right to stable shelter. But it requires the conviction to address root causes – not just manage symptoms. Denmark provides a model to follow if we can make a similar commitment.