fter seven years as the country's "homelessness czar," Philip Mangano is heading home to Cape Cod. Mangano, who owns a home in North Eastham, spoke Friday with the Cape Cod Times in a telephone interview from his office in Washington, D.C., about his time as the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and what the future holds. Friday is Mangano's last day.
The plan is to move back up there. I'm very much looking forward to coming up and being with my mom and catching up on some sleep ... There is one thread through what I've done for the last 30 years: the abolitionism of homelessness. I'll have more time to devote to the Cape and to my larger abolitionist work nationally and internationally as I've done for the past 10 years.
How is the new administration doing so far on homelessness issues?
There is an intent to continue to reduce the homeless population in general and an ongoing commitment to the new homeless family population. I do feel like I can leave and what we did during the seven years, not only will it be sustained, but we will see an even deeper level of commitment from the Obama administration. The president ensured that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ... was an expansive recovery act that included $1.7 billion targeted toward homelessness.
How would you rate Cape Cod on its efforts to address homelessness?
I think the good news on Cape Cod — and certainly this is what I've seen on my visits — is that you have provider agencies for the most part that are not stuck in the past, that are not wed to a status quo that has not worked for our homeless neighbors. Duffy and (Housing Assistance Corp.) — they are looking to the future. When you ask a homeless person what they want, they never ask for a pill, a program or a protocol. They ask for one thing, a place — a place to live.
How do you rate your efforts?
I have far exceeded what was anticipated and really accomplished the mission. (Homelessness advocates) had very low expectations of what would happen in (the Bush) administration, not in the current administration. There was great concern that things could be rolled back. To the credit of the president and the administration, they were very amenable to that re-framing of the issue and, very important, they were very supportive of a bi-partisan support for the issue.
- Outgoing executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 61 years old
- Appointed as national "homelessness czar" in 2002
- Helped increase federal spending on homelessness to record amounts for nine consecutive years, doubling from 2000 to 2009 to more than $5 billion
- Oversaw first documented decrease in the nation's homeless population equal to a 30 percent decrease in street and chronic homelessness and a 12 percent overall decrease between 2005 and 2007
- Helped develop Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness across the country, including on Cape Cod and the Islands
- Supported a "housing first" approach, the rapid rehousing of homeless people with support services as the central strategy of strategic planning