Fix Homelessness How to rebuild human lives

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Helping the Manhattan Poor: A History

Much of what we hear in national media concerning homelessness originates in the salons of Manhattan, and if we want to understand why our policy savants sometimes go far off course, we should understand the history of New York City’s successes and failures. Read More ›
Severely Damaged Buildings and Car after Tornado Touched Down on March 22, 2022 in Arabi, LA, USA
Severely Damaged Buildings and Car after Tornado Touched Down on March 22, 2022 in Arabi, LA, USA

What Happens With Homelessness When FEMA Doesn’t Come?

This is the second in a series. Read the first column here. Our tendency when we hear of a disaster is to ask when FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — will arrive. But because of some curious federal rules, Perryton Mayor Kerry Symons said his community will receive nothing. That’s because the threshold for FEMA help depends on meeting requirements that vary by state population. Damage that would be large enough to warrant help in Rhode Island doesn’t cut it in Texas. The logic is that a large state can bring to bear more resources than a small one. That bureaucratic rule hurts Perryton residents like Maria Marufo, who depended on income from renting out six mobile homes Read More ›


The City “Didn’t Care,” Say Burien Homeless as Private Org Finds Solutions

Crushing Expectations Kristine Moreland (@kmmoreland) and volunteers with “The More We Love” are way ahead of schedule. Only a handful of tents remain at the Grocery Outlet encampment in downtown Burien. No sweeps required. Most of the campers are being placed into tiny houses, motels, or detox facilities…FREE WILL CHOICE. But one man went on a bender after refusing to leave and was arrested by Burien Police (@BurienPD.) Otherwise, Moreland expects everything to be gone by Tuesday evening. When all is said and done, this needs to be a case study on how to do outreach. This was never about building more housing, spending lots of money, or warehousing people with foolish “housing first” policies. Instead, they leveraged resources already Read More ›


Help the Homeless, Help Yourself?

Today, nonprofit organizations designed to help the homeless compete to be beneficiaries listed in wills. Some offer public relations after death: “Make your generosity live on after you! You can assist the homeless by supporting the work of ___ in your will.” Or, “How Will You Be Remembered? You can help… overcome homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental health issues — even after you’re gone.” Other requests for bequests emphasize helping ourselves as well as helping others: “Your charitable trusts can be established to help homeless families with children, and offer you a tax advantage,” or “Your bequests can leave a lasting legacy, secure tax advantages for your family, and help us to prevent and end homelessness for years to come.” Is partly self-interested altruism new? The late Read More ›

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After Reading Current Assumptions, Try Some Wisdom From the Past

C. S. Lewis once said, “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.” The same goes for teaching about how to help the homeless and poor. Ever since 2013, federal policy has been “housing first”: Get homeless individuals under a roof with no pressure to get the mental health help many need, and no pressure to fight the drug addiction and alcoholism. We tend to equate compassion with giving-without-strings. That’s not the way influential poverty-fighters in the late 19th century thought. Maybe Read More ›

Community First Village

A Second Look at Community First! Village in Austin

I wrote last week about Community First! Village, located on relatively cheap land just east of Austin and getting national applause as the coolest homelessness project in what some call America’s coolest city. Read More ›
Man standing on street is collecting money for charity and holds jar with coins.
Man standing on street is collecting money for charity and holds jar with coins.

Learning From History

In helping the homeless we should be both generous and discerning. If we only provide material help in a way that enables addiction and overlooks mental illness, our generosity may be selfishness that gives ourselves a warm glow but hurts others. Read More ›

Generous Donation Gone to Waste on Bad Homelessness Policy

Seattle civic and business leaders have announced a $10 million collaborative effort to tackle the downtown chronic homelessness problem. “It’s the beginning of some good news,” Mayor Bruce Harrell declared when they announced the financial donation. Read More ›