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Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:07 PM

 

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions


A man in a wheelchair makes his way to the homeless shelter in Salt Lake City as a major storm blows into Utah. (Tom Smart/Associated Press)

The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003, inside a cavernous Las Vegas banquet hall populated by droves of suits. The problem at hand was seemingly intractable. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. A University of Pennsylvania study had just showed New York City was dropping a staggering $40,500 in annual costs on every homeless person with mental problems, who account for many of the chronically homeless. So that day, as officials spit-balled ideas, a social researcher named Sam Tsemberis stood to deliver what he framed as a surprisingly simple, cost-effective method of ending chronic homelessness.

Give homes to the homeless.

That conversation spawned what has been perhaps the nation’s most successful — and radical — program to end chronic homelessness. Now, more than a decade later, chronic homelessness in one of the nation’s most conservative states may soon end. And all of it is thanks to a program that at first seems stripped from the bleeding-heart manual. In 2005, Utah had nearly 1,932 chronically homeless. By 2014, that number had dropped 72 percent to 539. Today, explained Gordon Walker, the director of the state Housing and Community Development Division, the state is “approaching a functional zero.” Next week, he said, they’re set to announce what he called “exciting news” that would guarantee an “even bigger headline,” but declined to elaborate further.

How Utah accomplished this didn’t require complex theorems or statistical models. But it did require the suspension of what had been conventional wisdom. For years, the thought of simply giving the homeless homes seemed absurd, constituting the height of government waste. Many chronically homeless, after all, are victims of severe trauma and significant mental health and addiction issues. Many more have spent thousands of nights on the streets and are no longer familiar with home-living. Who, in their right mind, would willingly give such folk brand new houses without any proof of marked improvement?

But that’s exactly what Utah did. “If you want to end homelessness, you put people in housing,” Walker said in an interview. “This is relatively simple.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/17/the-surprisingly-simple-way-utah-solved-chronic-homelessness-and-saved-millions/?tid=pm_local_pop_b

_________________

This just blows me away! Who could've guessed that red-state Utah would come up with such a "program that at first seems stripped from the bleeding-heart manual."

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Reply The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions (Original post)
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 OP
Octafish Apr 2015 #1
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #2
hifiguy Apr 2015 #41
yeoman6987 Apr 2015 #3
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #7
freshwest Apr 2015 #9
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #10
freshwest Apr 2015 #11
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #12
freshwest Apr 2015 #18
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #19
freshwest Apr 2015 #25
Enthusiast Apr 2015 #26
treestar Apr 2015 #36
freshwest Apr 2015 #45
LittleBlue Apr 2015 #39
CreekDog Apr 2015 #20
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #21
deurbano Apr 2015 #23
woo me with science Apr 2015 #4
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #5
freshwest Apr 2015 #6
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #8
dixiegrrrrl Apr 2015 #35
maxsolomon Apr 2015 #13
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #16
Enthusiast Apr 2015 #28
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #31
reddread Apr 2015 #42
Liberal_in_LA Apr 2015 #14
Liberal_in_LA Apr 2015 #15
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #17
reddread Apr 2015 #22
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #24
reddread Apr 2015 #33
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #34
reddread Apr 2015 #40
JDPriestly Apr 2015 #27
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #29
JDPriestly Apr 2015 #30
Enthusiast Apr 2015 #32
treestar Apr 2015 #37
Surya Gayatri Apr 2015 #38
freshwest Apr 2015 #43
libdem4life Apr 2015 #44

Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:14 PM

1. And pretty soon, the newly-homed are in positions to become contributing members of society.

Again.

Thank you for another outstanding post, Surya Gayatri.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:15 PM

2. Well, Octafish, my pleasure. You flatter me!

 

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Response to Octafish (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:37 PM

41. Yep. Sometimes there are simple answers.

 

People with a stake will do their damndest to hold on to it.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:39 PM

3. San Francisco could easily do this

 

I wish they would. I don't like red states grabbing and succeeding the dialogue of this major issue. Liberal cities and states need to do more. We owe it to those in need.

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Response to yeoman6987 (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:46 PM

7. Yeah, true blue SF hasn't thought of this?

 

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:09 PM

9. Seattle did. They were widely dissed by talk radio for building a 'drunk motel' for people who were

unable to break their addictions in spite of years of drehabilitation programs. I think the standard was 7 failures.

It was supported by the Catholic Diocese of Seattle, as people were dying of hypothermia at the time downtown. The people in the upscale housing, where some high rise condos start at a million, didn't like them living on the sidewalk, either.

And the cost of their trips to ER's, being jailed for whatever, was far less than giving them guilt free housing without any expectation except being peaceful, IIRC at the time.

The rightwing hate radio claimed the bleeding heart liberals were going to provide faucets in the apartments that dispensed 'free wine for the winos,' on the taxpayer's dime. Rightwingers didn't see the big picture, that it not only benefited the tenants, but the very well off and you know they love them.

The RW refuses to acknowledge the way government could make a difference for those whose brains would never be able to escape their addictions. Having a roof over one's head changes everything in a person's life for the better and that of those around them who can't cure them.

Arizona also built apartments for those trying to get on their feet. When they finally had the security of knowing where they would sleep at night, a bed, bath and kitchen to take care of basic needs, many improved to the point of going to school to learn new skills and have jobs. All from having housing.

This is not rocket science, but it does require leaving behind the punitive, petty, conservative mindset.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #9)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:16 PM

10. And, that's the rub...the puritan mind-twist is so strong in the 'Murcan psyche.

 

'God helps those who'...well, you know the rest.

'...it does require leaving behind the puntitive, petty, conservative mindset.'

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #10)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:32 PM

11. Yes, and I need to spell check there! When in a hurry, mistakes happen.

Conservatives (and I'm being generous) must not have been taught about the evils of social darwinism and Calvinism in high school as I was. Or they would not be the way they are, one might hope.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:36 PM

12. What is this 'social Darwinism' you speak of?

 

Not one RW nutjob has ever heard of it, I'd bet the bank.

And, if they have heard of it, good Ayn Randians that they are, they agree heartily with the idea.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:04 PM

18. Social Darwinim is the survival of the fittest economically, eugenics by wealth. Very Ayn Rand but

it predates her by some years:

Social Darwinism is a modern name given to various theories of society that emerged in the United Kingdom, North America, and Western Europe in the 1870s, and which are claimed to have applied biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to sociology and politics.[1][2] Social Darwinists generally argue that the strong should see their wealth and power increase while the weak should see their wealth and power decrease. Different social Darwinists have different views about which groups of people are the strong and the weak, and they also hold different opinions about the precise mechanism that should be used to promote strength and punish weakness. Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism, while others motivated ideas of eugenics, racism, imperialism,[3] fascism, Nazism, and struggle between national or racial groups.[4][5]

The term social Darwinism gained widespread currency when used after 1944 by opponents of these earlier concepts. The majority of those who have been categorised as social Darwinists, did not identify themselves by such a label.[6]

Creationists have often maintained that social Darwinism—leading to policies designed to make the weak perish—is a logical consequence of "Darwinism" (the theory of natural selection in biology). Biologists and historians have stated that this is a fallacy of appeal to nature, since the theory of natural selection is merely intended as a description of a biological phenomenon and should not be taken to imply that this phenomenon is good or that it ought to be used as a moral guide in human society. Social Darwinism owed more to Herbert Spencer's ideas, together with genetics and a Protestant Nonconformist tradition with roots in Hobbes and Malthus, than to Charles Darwin's research.[7] While most scholars recognize some historical links between the popularisation of Darwin's theory and forms of social Darwinism, they also maintain that social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of the principles of biological evolution.[8]

Scholars debate the extent to which the various social Darwinist ideologies reflect Charles Darwin's own views on human social and economic issues. His writings have passages that can be interpreted as opposing aggressive individualism, while other passages appear to promote it.[9] Some scholars argue that Darwin's view gradually changed and came to incorporate views from the leading social interpreters of his theory such as Spencer,[10] but Spencer's Lamarckian evolutionary ideas about society were published before Darwin first published his theory, and both promoted their own conceptions of moral values. Spencer supported laissez-faire capitalism on the basis of his Lamarckian belief that struggle for survival spurred self-improvement which could be inherited.


Note the term collectivism is used by Libertarians and the Tea Party as the ultimate evil. Of course Rand used it. Much more worth reading at the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

As for Calvinism, see its roots and the current manifestations in play now:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism

As I said, this was taught as wrong and an evil way of organizing society in my days in high school in the 1960s in a southern, progressive school system. We grew up living in the blessings of the New Deal era. Our texts taught us that laissez-faire capitalism was abusive, that it must be regulated for the public good. And a number of other things that are now open to debate, that we thought were debunked years ago. Big money is taking us backwards. They realized they could not stop social change by their ideas, so they worked to stop all liberal teaching and monopolized the media. So much of what is going on in America is due to brainwashing.

Those ideas were in our text books, but also the abolition movement, the labor movement and women's rights were also promoted as American ideas. But the Tea Party has taken over the text books in Texas since that era, reportedly removing men such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others, replacing them with Calvin as important in the founding of the USA.

The danger is that Texas is one of the largest, if not the largest, purchaser of text books. Their text books when used, are sold to many other states and this, along with media, influences the younger generation to think of this as normal and patriotic.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #18)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:14 PM

19. I was trying to be ironic, fresh. I guess I should have used

 

the thing.

I learned a great deal about social Darwinism in my university Sociology and American History courses.

I certainly NEVER heard about it in my Nebraska high school classes. God forbid!

Only learned about the evils of laissez-faire capitalism once I got to college, as well.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #19)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:30 PM

25. I suspected you were using it, but wanted to explain it in case some were NEVER taught about it.

Those things are the reason there is a great difference between parties, as one or more flirts with or embraces it and the Democratic Party resists it in our platform and actions.

It definitely affected our support for unions, equal opportunity, populism and ending discrimination before we entered the work force. Some of what I read being done in *cough, cough* public schools was never allowed in my days. When prayer was cut out of classrooms, no fuss was made by anyone. That came from televangelists some years later. If only everyone was praying, and abortions and all of those things were ended, we'd all be saved by Gawd despite our faults. I was not brought up to believe we had a 'get out of hell free' card for faith.

Too bad you had to wait for going to a university to get this, at the time I was going to high school it was more widely known and it's possible many did not make it to college as we did. In my college, government and civics were mandatory, but little different in it than what I learned in high school. It was just a repeat.

It was however, where I took classes on European history that were more detailed than in high school. Lot of wars there that shaped the history, real 'in your face' conflicts. Not to mention WW2 of which we were involved, but didn't live through the devastation that the Europeans did, being somewhat removed from the real scene of battle on the homefront.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #9)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:35 PM

26. Punitive, petty, conservative mindset. Exactly.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #9)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:14 PM

36. Right wingers judgmental and punitive as always

"There but for the Grace of God go I." Not in their playbook.

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Response to treestar (Reply #36)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 09:02 PM

45. It must be a cultural thing. The expression was Christianity 101 when I was growing up.

Some old-fashioned, liberal Christians do believe that and feel humbled. One stated an analogy to the 'you can't take it with you' saying and the 'consider the lilies of the field' verse.

She expressed it as "The money I have was given by God, but it belongs to Him, not me. It's not for me to hold but to pass from my hands to others."

Conservatives are dedicated to wiping out that form of Christianity. They have even set up a Wiki, IIRC, to delete all of the 'liberal, collectivist' verses from the Bible. A google search on verses now show a lot of garbage results to push conservatism and one has to scroll to find the original text.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #9)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:19 PM

39. ....

 

Well said

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:16 PM

20. we don't have vacant homes in San Francisco

most of the units are rentals, so to produce vacant homes, the city would need to buy them and give them away.

or buy them, evict the tenants (illegal) and then give them away.

of course, your main purpose is to shame San Francisco because it's liberal.

nice try.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #20)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:22 PM

21. I believe you addressed this to the wrong person?

 

I was merely replying to this post from an SF inhabitant wondering why the authorities hadn't done something similar there.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026533022#post3

I implied no disrespect to SF whatsoever. It's one of my favorite cities in the world--after Paris of course, where I happen to live.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #20)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:27 PM

23. I didn't take it as "shaming" San Francisco... where I also live and (luckily) own a home.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:42 PM

4. Thank you. K&R

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:46 PM

5. You're welcome. This system should become best practice in all

 

in all municipalities.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:46 PM

6. “If you want to end homelessness, you put people in housing...”

This is what I've always said. Stop doing studies and praising make do solutions for homeless people. Stop acting like you are doing them a favor by supporting a hodge-podge of help driven by the desire to feel good.

Just stop homelessness. With a house.


Then whatever their problems are, they will have the self-respect and mental ease of being able to work things out in private, like most people do and not begging feeding and housing on schedules that doesn't match their condition to stay alive. How is a person supposed to have the superhuman stamina of not being able to sleep safely, being broke and not able to get to social services or in a line for help?

People that are homeless are treated as feral animals dependent on the kindness of some, but in a position to be abused at any time. And they are forced to live outdoors, and scramble for baths, toilet facilities, food, water, sleep and the privacy most take for granted... And is there any wonder when that part of Maslow's pyramid is denied them, that they don't meet social standards?

Gimme a break. Walk a mile in their shoes.


That is a beautiful town, and I'm hoping he never has to wheel himself in a snow storm to get shelter again. These are the people that Libertarians and the GOP want to die.

According to Rand Paul, he's a slacker. Just take a look at that pic... who would volunteer to be in a wheel chair if they didn't need one, as it's an invitation to being assaulted, or be in the snow like that because he is poor and disabled, when it's obviously painful and not good for his health?

I am sure mental illness accounts for some of the problems, but being on the street with no way out would cause such severe anxiety due to a lack of sleep or privacy in the normal activities of a person, they'd be sure to develop a condition. They aren't safe at any time from other people. Imagine no place to get away from criminal activity by anyone. It'd kill or drive anyone over the edge.

Instead by leaving them out in public, they might as well live in a zoo where people gawk at them and say callous and uncalled for things. The folks in Utah have my gratitude for seeing beyond the alleged 'sins' of the poor and disabled and accepting them as part of the human family.

Thanks for another excellent thread.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 03:49 PM

8. ^^^This!^^^

 

'They aren't safe at any time from other people. Imagine no place to get away from criminal activity by anyone. It'd kill or drive anyone over the edge.'

How tragically vulnerable they must feel.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:47 PM

35. You know, I bet we could solve hunger the same way.

Obviously.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:38 PM

13. I understand the popularity of this story, but it is not applicable everywhere.

There's an element of magical thinking here, as if the solution is "Just Do It". As the article states, "it's not that simple".

First, you must have "homes" (apartments) to "give". Seattle, for instance, has years-long waitlists. So do Housing Authorities in surrounding communities, even far out on the periphery of urban areas.

Second, you must have money to fund this approach, and particularly to BUILD new units to put the homeless into. A lot of money. That is not forthcoming in any state with the GOP in control of any branch of the government, and it's not coming from the Feds anytime soon, either. The article notes that construction of new units in UT has fallen off a cliff: 600 per year for 3 years, then 121 the 4th.

Third, look at the chart in the article. Yes, CHRONIC Homelessness was reduced, but not eliminated. And the overall rate and that of families? Not seeing a real downward trend there.

When I look around in Seattle, the fastest-growing city in America, what do I see? A marked influx of homeless in the last 6 months, an overwhelming number. I see people camping anywhere and everywhere. I see lines outside the service centers. This problem is getting worse, and with a feel-good story like this, the Devil is in the details.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #13)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:46 PM

16. I see you are of the 'glass half empty' school.

 

Homelessness has only been reduced, but not totally eliminated? No, say it ain't so...

Well then, let's just throw up our hands and walk away, eh?

I applaud Utah's attempt to tackle the issue head on by thinking outside their instinctive RW mind set.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #16)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:38 PM

28. Well said, Surya Gayatri! And thank you for this thread.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #28)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:40 PM

31. My pleasure, Enthusiast!

 

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #16)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:40 PM

42. that hardly follows

 

objecting to an emptier glass is not an attempt to throw up your hands and walk away.
pretending the rosey scenario painted by months old mainstream media "news" story means anything
to those who have not been helped is throwing up your thumbs and walking away.

Housing First goes back a long ways, and there are municipalities milking it for everything it is worth.
Except long term housing.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:40 PM

14. book marking for later reading

 

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:41 PM

15. LA is doing this

 

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Response to Liberal_in_LA (Reply #15)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 04:49 PM

17. Well, if they can't ELIMINATE homelessness in one go, I guess

 

it's no use.

At least according to this DUer:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026533022#post13

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:23 PM

22. just beware that people are using the rubric of housing first

 

to get the money from the feds, and offering short stays to temporary guests.
Those Republicans in Utah may be doing a much better job than the Republicans in Fresno.

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Response to reddread (Reply #22)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:29 PM

24. Would that not be fraudulent use of federal monies?

 

According to what I can glean from the aritcle, the state authorities are on board with the program. Are they lying?

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #24)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:42 PM

33. is there any other kind?

 

allow me to show you the freeway onramp carpool diamond lanes (all 60-100 feet of them at each freeway onramp) here in Fresno.
seriously. can you read that subject header aloud without cracking up?

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Response to reddread (Reply #33)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:47 PM

34. Sorry, was this intended as an answer to my question about the Utah

 

authorities? You are saying that they are out and out lying, is that what I should take away?

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #34)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:31 PM

40. I cannot speak to the Utah experience

 

but I have seen reasonable questioning about a story (this one) that gets propped up fairly often.
You might need to speak to some homeless people in utah to get an informed perspective.
Or, if you want to consider the realities facing other areas with burgeoning homeless communities,
Fresno would be one to appreciate.
I can speak fairly knowledgably about things in this area,
"Housing First" is being abused by those who do not truly care for the stated (and realistic) goals.
BUT THEY DO LOVE THE MONEY IT RINGS IN.

seriously. you know how many federal funds the City of Fresno has waylaid into law enforcement and other functions not
specified?

would you, possibly, expect the only local McClatchy paper to be a watchful eye?
That would be a mistake.

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:35 PM

27. I worked for a homeless agency for eight years.

This concept became very clear to me: homeless people or most of them need homes. The answer is to provide them with safe places, safe homes or apartments to live in. Sober living facilities for many. Housing with counselors and guards (to keep out dangers, not necessarily to keep in the formerly homeless) for those mentally ill capable of living outside an institution.

I have a friend who was homeless for years. I did not meet her through the homeless facility I worked for but through an organization we both belong to.

She had no place to shower. She had to get to her shelter every evening before a certain time (but not too early) or spend the night on the street.

She looked homeless. She thought homeless. Her homelessness dictated all of her choices in life.

Finally, she qualified for housing, a Section 8 deal. (She was disabled.) And her life changed. She received SSI and squeezed every penny buying clothes from second-hand stores, food from the 99 cents store, etc. Over time, she became more and more elegant in her dress and she looks really good -- probably classier than I do.

What a difference a home can make.

Congratulations to Utah for having had the courage and willingness to do the right thing, the Progressive thing, might I add, to help the homeless.

A home and a bit of money can get a homeless person on the right track. Those with a history of drug or psychiatric problems need counseling (more often than once a month) and sober living housing and other help, but even they can lead lives of dignity. The investment is not all that great.

Living in a community in which the homeless are all around you is depressing. It's horrible to watch people suffer as the homeless do. And with really not that much effort we could end homelessness.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #27)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:38 PM

29. When will we learn to invest in human potential rather than

 

just securities and real estate?

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #29)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:40 PM

30. Exactly!

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #27)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 05:41 PM

32. What an excellent post!

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:16 PM

37. That also goes against the right wing meme

That the homeless prefer to live that way.

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Response to treestar (Reply #37)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 06:17 PM

38. Very well said...

 

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Response to Surya Gayatri (Reply #38)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 08:38 PM

43. The image of the man in the snow storm should go viral, like the story.

Of course, some of 'em are so far gone they think it couldn't ever happen to them. A few rightwingers have taken their own lives when it did happen.


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Response to Surya Gayatri (Original post)

Sun Apr 19, 2015, 08:46 PM

44. Yes, spread the word. Many grateful people there.

 

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