A lot of homelessness initiatives are 90 percent talk and only 10 percent walk. That’s why I’m impressed with the street-level experience of people involved in The True Charity Initiative, which champions “a national movement of voluntarily funded, effective charity at the most local level.” I asked local leaders involved with True Charity to rank the four views of fixing homelessness that I summarized in my column last week: 1) Housing first, 2) Improve mental health/stop substance abuse first, 3) Community first, and 4) Christ first. Bill Roberts of Love INC in Fishersville, Virginia, said ranking the four is challenging, but he’d give it a shot. He put housing first: Having a place to call home creates a sense of safety and security. Housing allows individuals Read More ›
This column begins year two of my weekly writing specifically about homelessness: 52 down, 52 to go, and then it’s time to turn columns into a book. People new to the homelessness debate often find the recommendations of various groups confusing. So here’s a simplified, maybe over-simplified means of understanding the big four prescriptions: Let’s unpack this. Housing First advocates in government and at the National Alliance to End Homelessness say homeless individuals should receive permanent housing with no questions asked: They cannot be required to address their alcoholism or addictions, nor should they be pushed to meet with mental health professionals or take any medications. Further, Housing First emphasizes “client choice” regarding the housing that is offered: Those who Read More ›
Real Talk Before the SODO sweep, I ran into “Strawberry,” a woman who recently found an apartment after living on #Seattle‘s streets for years. But Strawberry says she came back to see her homeless friends because this is her community and she can’t let them go. She says the reason why some people return back to the streets is because of loneliness. Let that sink in. I hope every non-profit leader, elected official, policy maker considers this crucial detail before trying to warehouse homeless people…out of sight and out of mind. They need community. Not just “housing first” or “wrap around services.” They need to be surrounded by people who genuinely care for them.