After 20 years, the work of ending homelessness is much more difficult. The people we help are much more chronically homeless than before. Our supporters are more jaded. Our community is less compassionate for people who have been on their streets for decades.
Tag Archives: housing first
Forget shelters, they were simply bandages. Tear those shelter Band-Aids off quickly. The new, and improved solutions to homelessness were supposed to end veteran and chronic homelessness by the end of 2015
It is truly wonderful that several cities have ended veteran homelessness. However, homelessness has increased in many major jurisdictions – and homelessness encampments continue to appear across our landscape.
An empty apartment is not a home. When students go to college, their parents usually buy them bedding, cooking utensils, clothes, and food—so they can focus on their studies. When formerly homeless persons move into an apartment, just like those students starting on a new path, their home needs to be fully furnished; in turn, they can focus on looking for work and rebuilding their lives.
Living on the streets, for years at a time, can rapidly increase one’s age—turning any young adult into someone appearing middle-aged or elderly.
Perhaps, if we give away tents to everyone on the streets, we could hide them. We would just see their shadows. It is hard to put a face on a shadow. Shadows are easier to stereotype. They are easier to forget after we drive by them. Shadows sleeping in a pup tent are easier to label as lazy, drunks, or criminals.
I think that we sometimes spend too much time and creative energy on “helping” people who are homeless, rather than simply “housing” people who are homeless. The real solution is to provide real homes for people within our homeless population.
Today, I wonder why America—a society that is so sophisticated, wealthy, and compassionate—doesn’t pick up its lost humanity on the streets and connect them with housing and with the community of humanity.
Imagine if you were left-handed and homeless. When you tell the social worker you are a southpaw, she explains that bathrooms in the shelter are only for right-handed people. The response of these homeless shelters that bar transgender people is just as absurd as if they were banning people who were left-handed.
A Key? Not Always the Key to Housing