This year, APA President James H. Bray, PhD, organized a task force dedicated to gaining a more accurate understanding of who makes up the homeless population and what they need to improve their situations. Bray hopes the task force will assemble a report that defines exactly what homeless people need and how psychologists and others can help meet those needs.
For example, Bray says, there are many groups of "invisible" homeless, such as the working homeless. "They're going to work every day, they just don't have homes," he says. "If you give them just a little bit of help, they can get back on their feet."
Bray also calls for psychologists to get out on the streets and talk with homeless people to learn which services work best for each situation.
Bray hopes that, armed with specific information about the needs of the homeless community, psychologists will be able to partner with other disciplines in the medical and social services community to push for better policy and "shine a light on what are the psychological needs these people have."
Members of the task force are chair Norweeta Milburn, PhD, at the University of California–Los Angeles; Beryl Ann Cowan, JD, PhD, an independent practitioner in Atlanta; Seymour Gross, PhD, at the Hennepin County Mental Health Center in Minneapolis; Allison Ponce, PhD, at Yale University; Paul Toro, PhD, at Wayne State University; and Joseph Schumacher, PhD, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The task force expects to release its report in early 2010.