In order for us to understand what public policy might actually help improve cities with a large homeless population, then we need to understand what assumptions public policy makers might have about the homeless which work against public interest.
The word “transient” is often used as synonymous with “homeless”, calling to mind “travelling hobos” of yore. However, the recent Point in Time Count of Multnomah County shows that the majority of homeless stay in the same city, even the same part of the city, where they became homeless. There are some homeless who travel around, but that is not the typical homeless population. Rather, the homeless tend to be conservative about their living area, only moving when they are forced to, and rarely moving out of the area where they used to have a residence, or where they grew up. The typical homeless person is transient, only if they are forced to.
(Point in Time Report: https://multco.us/housing-and-homelessness/2015-point-time-report )