if you're connected to social media in any form it would be practically impossible for you not to be aware
of the homeless in america. if you walk down the streets of your city with any regularity it would be incredulous
if you do not encounter a homeless person at some point. if you are remotely aware of social issues in this country it would be extraordinary if you did not run across articles about the homeless, the causes. the
suggested solutions and headlines concerning various cities and their issues with and efforts to end homelessness.
i worked with and around the homeless. i experienced a period of homelessness myself. i still walk with, talk with and am around the homeless. i have very strong opinions about homelessness, the solutions that could work
to end it and the proposed solutions that have had little impact and will not work. i have very strong opinions about the homeless themselves and what it takes for them to end their homelessness. i have expressed my opinions on all of these subjects along the way. i still think they are valid and will continue to believe that until i see something to convince me otherwise.
homelessness is ugly. there is nothing glamorous, heroic or acceptable about it. despite the trend to normalize and glamorize homelessness and those experiencing it, it is ugly. it is a scourge on a country that could end it within two years if it really wanted to. it is difficult, dangerous and deadly to the men, women and children experiencing it. thirteen homeless kids die alone on our streets every nite...homeless and alone i think it is a national tragedy that this country continues to allow our children to be homeless. i think it is a disgrace to america that we continue to allow men and women to sleep on and die on our streets
every nite. i think it is immoral that we, in our own cities are willing to allow people to be homeless. it is wrong. it is a stain on our legacy to our children. it is unnecessary. it is a reflection of our failings to our fellow citizens and our fellow human beings. if we as a country were to mobilize as we do for other causes and other disasters, homelessness would not exist in this country.
the solution to homelessness is a simple one. i'm sure if you are a homeless advocate or anyone who reads
about the homeless you have seen that sentence. but it is simple. it is housing. but the path to that housing is what seems to be the one point that we have never come to a consensus on. i do think housing is the answer. supportive or free housing to rescue the homeless from the streets is the correct answer. but the key issue in housing is what happens after the homeless receive housing. free housing with no strings is not the answer. it is an historically failed program and will continue to fail because of lack of funding, lack of a quantitative and qualitative transition rate and the fact the free housing would continue to grow exponentially.
free housing would only be successful if we are willing to admit that is nothing more than removing a person from being homeless and placing them in a dependent welfare situation. at that point we would have to establish a
continuous housing fund for the homeless and not one that is funded from year to year. we would have to ensure
that this fund accounts for the growth in the number of people that become homeless from year to year since homelessness is not a stagnant number that will not grow annually. chronic homelessness, which has garnered alot of attention and media coverage when cities proclaim they are on the verge of or are planning to end it, cannot be ended until homelessness as a whole is eradicated. by definition, it is impossible because for every
one that transitions out of "chronic homelessness", one or more will fall into that category due to the very
definition of the word chronic. that is why many cities, while claiming to have significantly reduced chronic homelessness, actually have an increase in the overall homeless population and the number of chronically
homeless eventually increases as new counts and pit numbers are put forward.
the funding to end homelessness is a problem within itself. we spend enough money annually to house every
single homeless person in the united states easily. the way we spend it is ineffective. we have bloated homeless agencies, ineffective social service agencies and a federal government <hud> that is willing to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into programs that only house a few of the homeless. they do this while ignoring the larger problem and at the expense of the majority of the homeless popuation. scarce and much needed resources are
ineffectively spent and the overall homeless population continues to languish and suffer, particularly our homeless families and children. a very small percentage of the total dollars spent actually reach the homeless. the rest is spent on expanding programs, increasing employees or continuing data research to formulate yet another ten year plan. we spend enough money each year to allocate over 28k dollars on each man, woman and child in america for whatever relief they need, whether it be homelessness, hunger or poverty. so please explain, if you can, why hunger and homelessness still exist in this country with that kind of expenditure.
the intrinsic problem with homeless resources is that we've let the federal government hijack our policies, our programs and our efforts to ending homelessness. the federal government has never been effective in reducing homelessness. the real successes and the most quantitative results come from local grassroots organizations and coalitions of missions, shelters, churches and civic organizations. each city has its own unique homeless problems, its own unique homeless population, its own unique set of demographics and hence should have its own set of solutions and path to ending homelessness. we need to return to a more local and state level in funds
allocation and expenditures. federal oversight is acceptable and needed. an overbearing and dictating federal
agency is not. not one city in america has successfully ended homelessness....not one...in over forty years. keep that in mind when considering housing programs and the history of success of those programs.
the homeless themselves have to be a part of the solution. only the homeless can end their homelessness.
we have come to accept excuses and perimeter reasons for homelessness. i realize over the past few years that the economy did indeed play a major role in the increase in homelessness. but i also realize that the excuses associated with the economic downturn are wearing thin now. we have had a slight decrease in homelessness over the past two years and i believe that decrease is due to the improved economy and relatively low unemployment rate at this time. the core population of the homeless has not changed and the decrease in the
homeless population is not due to any housing program except at a very local level and then only in very small
numbers. we have to be bluntly honest about the real reasons for homelessness and the issues of the homeless.
drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling mental health issues and physical disability issues among others are the re the real causes of homelessness on a large scale. yes, domestic abuse is part of the problem also. but addictions and other habits play a major role in homelessness and it is the cause of continued homelessness. housing first is the answer. but with that housing there has to an exit strategy that includes drug and alcohol recognition and treatment and the willingness to admit the homeless are the cause of their homelessness in most cases. the issues causing that homelessness have to addressed along with housing and not at leisurely pace. someone remaining in free housing five years after receiving it is not a sign of success but is rather a sign of failure and a sign of a growing dependency instead of transitioning to self sufficiency.putting a roof over the head of an addiction is signing their death warrant or resigning them to dependent not only on their addiction
but on the graces of welfare and support programs. this is not the answer nor should it be.
whatever sort of housing program a city chooses to pursue, homeless children, the truly disabled and those suffering from mental illness should be a priority target, in that order. we have allowed our federal government and politicians to so segment our homeless population into politically valuable groups that we have lost insight to who the truly vulnerable and deserving are. any and all housing programs should target homeless children first. no exceptions. we need to hold politicians, city leaders and homeless agencies accountable for promises, pledges and announcements they make. particularly held accountable should be homeless agencies. the success or failure of a homeless agency should be based on one simple, crucial question. that question is "how many did you house last year and at what cost?" if the answer is not acceptable or within the parameters of any reasonable business equation, the employees, particularly the head of the agency should be replaced immediately. the second question that should follow is, "how many homeless are left to be housed?" do not be
fooled by skewed numbers either. despite proclamations and headlines, no city in america has ended or is
close to ending chronic homelessness. by definition it is mathematically impossible.
there are some phrases and things we should keep in mind when discussing or making plans about the
homeless. here are some:
-- keep it local, keep it simple.
---treat the homeless with dignity and respect
---never make a promise you can't or do not intend to keep
---free housing is not free, to anyone
---2 words micro.housing.
---our children are our most vulnerable and innocent among the homeless and we owe it them
to not pass this problem along to the next generation.
---addictions, mental illness and alcoholism is prevalent among the core homeless
---you and i are the problem and the answer to homelessness. only when we take the moral responsibility
for our mothers, brothers, fathers, sons, daughters and neighbors will we end homelessness.
---we need to stop predicting an end to homelessness, particularly since we haven't even
managed to reduce it on a significant level. instead, we need to simply say, we'll house as many as
we can this year with the funds we have available....then do it, effectively.
---only the homeless can end their homelessness
i hope my grandchildren do not become familiar with homelessness except by reading and hearing about it. it's too late for the next generation because we have already introduced them to the horrible conditions of the homeless.i think it's past time we end this ugly condition in america once and for all and bring it to a functional zero point.
that's all i have to say about that
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