Homelessness Can Be Made Rare: Evidence From Policies and Services That Worked

Human decency prescribes that we do what we can and must to help those who are unhoused.

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
6 min readJun 6, 2024
A man sits slumped over on a bench, wearing a cap and a leather jacket. Beside him is a sign that reads ‘Anything hungry helps, God bless,’ along with a large suitcase and some personal belongings.
Photo by Steve Knutson on Unsplash

When we moved to the United States from Mexico, the move was not a big one in terms of distance. Many of my relatives already lived in El Paso, Texas. The move from Juárez, Chihuahua, involved simply driving over the river and into a new place to live.

Mom leased our house in Juárez to a family, since we did not expect to need it once we lived in El Paso. As it turns out, we needed it. Mom’s degree in law did not transfer, so she had to start all over with a low-wage job. As is the case with many people in the United States, we lived one paycheck away from losing our housing.

And we did.

One summer in the 1990s, we had no place to live. We went from one place to another, staying with relatives or mom’s friends. Since I was out of school most of the summer, she sent me to stay with my grandparents in the mountains of Chihuahua. But, when I returned, there was a whole school year where we didn’t have a set place to live. Mom hesitated to leave the family leasing our house with a home of their own, so we made do.



René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

DrPH in Epidemiology. Public Health Instructor. Father. Husband. "All around great guy."