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.

2 thoughts on “I hate the term “solving” homelessness.”

  1. Love what I’m reading!! People definitely need some understanding! Childhood trauma started my life on a bumpy road. When I was 4 the police came to my house in Alaska and took my brother, who was nine years older than I, and placed us both in foster care. I’m not going to write a book but just want you to know how the system has been interfering with my life since I was little. I was only in foster care for a week or maybe a few days because my mom’s parents adopted my brother and I but my grandpa died from lung cancer when I was 6 and my grandma died from it when I was 10. My mom was murdered by a “hot” shot when I was 13 and my only brother died from leukemia when I was 14. My dad kicked me out of the house when I was 16 and then I lived with 5 different families through high school and ended up in Oregon my senior year and graduated from high school in Jefferson Oregon. I went to college in S. Dakota on academic and athletic scholarships and a Pell Grant but my second week into football I got into an altercation in a different town at a different college and broke out this guy’s car window because he was talking and acting like he wanted to fight but he would not fight me so I broke out his driver’s side window. Then my friend and took off back to our college and the next day I called the police and told them what I did. They acted like they appreciated my honesty and gave me a misdemeanor ticket for vandalism and I gave them a written confession. When I went to my court date for misdemeanor vandalism I was shocked to find that I was being charged with a felony for intentional damage to property. I was sentenced to 24 months in prison, and lost all my scholarships over breaking a 96 dollar truck window in ’99. Because of the way their laws are written in S. Dakota if you violate parole you have to start your time over again if you violate so I was there until April of 2002. After prison I went back to Oregon and was working for my uncle and found out that I had 120 acres of land that I inherited in Alaska but was loosing because I had not been paying taxes on the land. I also found out that I had some other money that my other uncle left me after he died and I decided to take that money and go back to Alaska for the first time since high school. I was planning on staying in Alaska for a couple months and then trying to play football at Western Oregon but the day before I was supposed to fly to Oregon I got into a devastating car wreck that left me in a coma for 10 days and in the hospital for a month and after the hospital I was placed in assisted living homes for the mentally and physically handicapped and after 5 months of living in those homes I took a neuropsychiatric exam to prove I was competent and after proving I was competent that allowed me to settle with the insurance company in April for 200,000 dollars. Sorry this is long but I blew my 200,000 in less than 5 months and it ended with guns in a hotel room in Sacramento when I got kidnapped and that began my homeless adventure with Jesus in 03. He has taken good care of me and provided all my needs and now I’m obsessed with Jesus. Guess how many times I’ve been arrested? Not how many times I’ve been convicted just arrested. 67!! Give or take 1 or 2. The first time I got arrested for a trespass charge at my friend’s house, my friend wrote the judge asking for leniency, I had no prior trespassing charges and plead guilty, the judge gave me the maximum sentence which was 365 days in jail!!
    I have a number of issues. Emotional trauma,mental impairment, criminal history, and drug and alcohol addiction. I have been denied social security and I have no confidence or trust that anyone really cares. What we need on this earth is an outpouring of God’s spirit so that people might understand the predicament on this earth and put their faith in the only one who can save them. Jesus is our saviour put your faith and trust in Him because this world is falling apart. The devil is the current ruler of this evil world but only for a time and then Jesus is coming to begin his reign as ruler of His everlasting kingdom. Jesus is coming really soon!!

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