This week, the city of Boston conducted its annual Homeless Census, during which teams of volunteers spanned the city and counted the number of people living on the streets, in shelters, or transitional housing. Data from the annual count is used to make decisions about where to spend scarce resources to reduce and prevent homelessness among individuals and families.

The quick and obvious answer to the question of homelessness is to provide permanent housing to those who need it. A New Yorker article published last fall about Utah’s wildly successfully policy of giving housing to people who are homeless went viral on social media. Last month, Seattle officials announced plans to open three “tent cities” to provide shelter to people who are homeless. President Obama’s plan to end homelessness among veterans has met with success, in part, because of its focus on immediately placing people who are homeless into permanent housing without requiring them to first complete an alcohol or drug treatment program.

There is no question that one of the keys to reducing homelessness among individuals and families is to provide them with housing. But much like health reform advocates―known as “upstreamists” ― who want to see health insurers pay for prevention initiatives that will keep people healthy, those working to end homelessness know that the ultimate solution must include reform that will prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

A veteran who is able to find employment is much less likely to experience homelessness than one who can’t land a job. A family with parents who are able to find employment paying a living wage of at least $13.89 an hour is much less likely to experience homelessness than a family with parents earning minimum wage. And a person trying to find housing after a period of incarceration will not succeed unless he or she is also able to find employment.

There are three areas on which to focus for longer-term success in reducing homelessness:

• Community support for those trying to live independently after a period of incarceration

It’s hard to think of anyone better situated to make the successful transition from prison than Piper Kerman, author of the memoir Orange Is the New Black upon which the successful Netflix series is based. When Kerman sought to rebuild her life after her release from prison, she enjoyed the support of family and friends, and had the advantage of past career accomplishments. Yet in multiple interviews, she cites one factor as being the most important in her post-incarceration success: the job that a friend had waiting for her, and which she was able to begin just one week after leaving prison. Very few of those emerging from prison have a job waiting for them. As they seek employment, many will need intensive skills training, as well as support connecting them with health care providers and, if needed, substance abuse programs.

• Job skills training for the long-term unemployed

Such training must run the gamut from classroom-based instruction in computer and customer service skills to actual employment via internships or social enterprises focused on providing real world work experience. Robust training programs will also support job seekers throughout the employment application and interview process, offer meaningful references and networking opportunities, and provide ongoing support during the inevitable ups and downs of employment.

• Support for those uniquely vulnerable to experiencing homelessness

Veterans, single mothers living in poverty, and individuals new to recovery from substance abuse are uniquely vulnerable to becoming homeless. Targeted outreach with services tailored to meet the needs of these groups can help them stabilize their lives―so that they never become homeless in the first place.

Nothing brings comfort like a warm home. We should work toward ensuring that as few people as possible every experience living without one.

Suzanne Kenney is the executive director of Project Place.