We are about to see a 4 million strong increase in the US homeless population to add to the more than 1/2 million people who are already homeless.
This will make the Dustbowl days and the Great Depression look like child's play.
There are numerous defunct military bases across the country that have been sitting idle for years.
I don't know the actual status of the 2 decommissioned bases in WA One is in Seattle and the other is in Vancouver WA. There are an additional 28 in CA and 1 in OR which should be enough to help house the homeless along the west coast.
If the US government could lease those to a non-profit to house the homeless it would be a good step in the right direction.
Start with the elderly and disabled by contracting with a reputable nursing home business. That would get at least our most vulnerable off the streets. It could help those with mental health issues to get the help they need.
Then take in the newly homeless who want to work and start them off with a CCC camp type of job. It could be simply to help take care of the elderly and disabled while getting them the training and schooling they need to become CNAs or have training for other necessary things like maintenance, janitorial, skilled trades, etc to help them get out of poverty and back into the workforce. They will be the easiest population to take the services and opportunities presented to them.
Create a college/university/trade school on-site or nearby to get these people who are eager for a better life the training to be able to do so.
Once you have them trained and starting to move into a more permanent job, you can start bringing in the rest of the homeless if they want to get helped to get off drugs and alcohol. These will be the hardest group to deal with. Many of them don't want to be helped and will likely remain part of the long-term homeless population.
A caveat is that the bases will need to be in states that expanded Medicaid so the elderly and disabled will get some funding for their nursing home-like or assisted living care. Most of them should be able to qualify for SSI, and Medicaid to help defray costs to local entities. Put a cap on the profit a facility can retain(no more than 10% of the operating costs) so taxpayers don't get soaked with the high wages of CEOs. Make sure the entity hired has the experience to run a facility well. DO NOT give contracts to the for-profit prison system or defense contractors to run things That would make things go badly in a hurry.
Yes, the initial costs to get started will be high, but likely less costly than adding 4 million people to the homeless rolls.