I hate the term “solving” homelessness.

Homelessness is not the problem, it is a symptom of the problem. First let me say this is not in replacement of programs like UGM as they have good results from the demographic of people they serve. It’s in addition to. Trauma based programs address the folks who have been kicked out of all programs, are deeply traumatized, have addiction issues ( trauma is the gateway to drugs), felony convictions and chronic homelessness. These are people who have fallen through the cracks of programs because their core issues have not been addressed. We can jail these folks but what will that accomplish except making them unseen and exasperating their issues with more trauma. You can force people into treatment but until they are willing to participate it would do no good. Trauma is deep and effects all parts of their lives. Also if we don’t focus upstream before they become homeless this problem will only increase. 70% of this city pays more than 3/4 of their gross income to housing. They truly are one emergency, one car breakdown, one sick week away from being in this position as well. This coupled with our housing crisis in this city only compounds the problem.
4 steps to helping people off the streets:
First, it starts with outreach. Making human connections with people in this situation. Providing care and concern for people who are in desperate need. This outreach needs to be a collaborative effort on all parts of trauma based treatment programs like Compassionate Addiction Treatment and others. MAT on the street is a start. Aces score research proves this trauma based treatment works.
2nd step. Low barrier non religious based shelters with wrap around services. Shelter that focuses on community and healing. Meeting people where they are. Focusing on what reasons that caused their homelessness individually because each reason is different than the other. Without a sense of belonging to something there is no reason to hope. A universal solution is impossible because each reason, each trauma is different. Meeting basic needs is the only way humans begin to address the other issues. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is proven data that shows how we as humans can not focus on healing until basic needs are met. Case managers to help navigate the system and mental health counseling and treatment. Peer support and structure.
3rd step transitional or supported living. Housing first works. With supportive services to help folks who need a reentry program. We recognize that incarcerated individuals require a reentry program to become productive members of society, why would it be different for people experiencing homelessness? To learn basic life skills again, financial management and work force training is crucial to success in our community.
4th step is affordable housing. We are a trickle up economy. People start their lives and move into apartments and eventually buy a home or rent a home. If housing is so unaffordable that no one can afford to leave apartments they can not open those spaces up for new tenants. We need better tenant laws!
This type of program is showing results in our world. We have seen results of this on a smaller scale. It’s about time we try and heal our communities so we can have not just have surviving members but thriving ones.
No one is unstable. We need to exhaust every option we have to help them before incarceration is the solution. Not only is it a fiscally irresponsible move to chose jail first but an inhumane one as well. We need as a community to change the narrative our politicians use to describe this demographic of people. Enabling what? Not dying? Shoes, clothing, food and beds is not keeping folks from thriving. What is keeping people from healing and thriving is lack of understanding the issues this population faces daily.
I love this city. I do not want people sleeping on our sidewalks maybe for a different reason than some but we agree it’s not ok. But I understand why they do. I dont want anyone using in my backyard but again I understand why. We all as a community need to accept this problem can not be “solved” without a collaborative effort to participate in REAL solutions. There are amazing people doing amazing things in this city, utilize them. Stop duplicating services and try different approaches.
Yes this cost money to build but we will spend it either way year after year paying for unnecessary solutions. In the long term this will save this community money and resources. Build it right from the beginning instead of trying to catch up later. Data and research proves this works. Time to step out of the mind frame of “we have always done it this way”. It hasn’t worked.

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