"Give the homeless homes."
That's the latest trend in our country's fight to end homelessness. If we
throw enough homes and money at the problem, somehow homelessness will end.
For a relatively small segment of the homeless population, a home may be the
answer. We as a nation have a moral duty to provide safe and stable shelter for
those who live with mental and physical disabilities that prevent them from
working. Our tax dollars are well spent on saving these American lives. But
that's neither news nor an innovation.
The real question is, what about the rest -- the majority -- of homeless
I have spent 25 years advocating for the homeless. And I know that if the
solution to homelessness were as simple as taxpayer supported homes, one of the
thousands of smart, passionate advocates working on this crisis would have
already come up with that answer.
In fact, "Housing First" policies only have the appearance of efficacy if we
all agree to ignore the obvious: giving away homes is too expensive and it
But from New York to Phoenix, housing fever has put cities and nonprofit
organizations into a self-proclaimed "race" to end homelessness. There's just
one problem with treating this as a race. In every race, someone loses. And in
this one, it's the homeless themselves.
What happens when these programs are inevitably closed because a city's
housing dollars run out? The formerly homeless go right back to suffering on the
street. It's already happened in New York City, as recently as 2011.
And yet, here we are: reattempting the same type of policy, one that has been
tested and failed. Except this time, we're doing it on a grander, national
scale. What's going to happen? A grander, national failure.
All that these programs prove is that if you offer someone in need a free
place to live, the vast majority will accept it. What they've failed to prove is
that people will become self-sufficient simply because they're housed.
The quality of their lives over the long run, their ability to live
independently, their interpersonal and work skills... none of these come into
the equation. And yet they're the most important features a person needs to
break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
That's why the vast majority of homeless men and women don't just need a
home. They need opportunity. They need work. And they need the training,
education, and supportive services to find it and succeed.
That is where we should invest our resources: not handing over tax dollars to
landlords and hoping the problem corrects itself; but on work training,
education, and paid employment opportunities that uplift a homeless person's
life, enrich their skills, and empower them to live independently.
Every day, I get the pleasure of seeing a plan like that in action. And every
day, I see the formerly homeless succeed. They succeed because they find a path
to self-sufficiency through work. And once they do, they're much more than
tenants in a subsidized apartment. They become productive members of society,
full of potential, confidence, and the desire to contribute to their families
That is how we get to the end of homelessness:
It's not a race to a home. It's a journey to self-sufficiency.
that's the article. I hope you read it, considered it and it gave you some insight on why I oppose free housing for the homeless with no strings attached.
see you around town
footnote: i would really like to hear from some of you who read this site, both on a regular basis and the casual reader. i have three ways you can do that....you can comment here in this blog, you can use the forum to express your opinions in the twitter, facebook and chats section or you can simply answer the quick survey in that same section. the survey is a simple yes, no, no opinion or other format. it requires no registering or giving your name.i am considering eliminating the forum due to lack of participation. i'm reluctant to do so because it is an outlet to express your opinion and get feedback. but, as with anything, if it's not used then it's not useful.