Key Takeaways


TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Solutions (Overview)
  • Misconceptions (Overview)
  • Effects (Overview)
  • Facts & Statistics (Overview)
  • Criticalities (Overview)
Solutions (Overview)

"The solution to homelessness is housing."

To succeed in life, we all need a place to call home.
Housing solutions are the answer to homelessness ... We can’t continue putting Band-Aids on the issue. We need to deal with the issue by addressing the ultimate solution, which is increased housing resources.

All forms of homelessness are a prevailing issue that cannot be resolved by temporary efforts, but rather by long-term work that involves generating an adequate and affordable housing stock for the area’s homeless population to transition into. 

We need to solve poverty nationally. And we can. We can do this the way we've achieved other historical accomplishments. When we set out to cure Polio or put a man on the moon, we started by setting an audacious goal, and committing to a long process of trial and error, dedicating resources and research to the problem, and utilizing our experts. We can do this again, for this problem (homelessness). We must pledge that we will not allow this cycle to continue; not in the biggest economy the world has ever known. We all have a role to play. Not just non-profits and churches, but businesses and government too. Poverty is a complicated problem with a complicated history, impacted by complicated systems, and so it's easy to get overwhelmed and just go back to doing what we've always done, or worst yet, do nothing at all. 

Let's commit our hearts, and our heads to solving this as a nation and not just in small communities. And let's invite the experts to the table, in this case - members of the communities that are impacted. 


We must make the shift from "managing homelessness", to ending it. A shift to focusing all efforts by creating access to safe and secure affordable housing. Affordable housing income. Connecting people with information, resources, and opportunities needed most.


The best approach (suggested by research and evidence) to end homelessness, is the Housing First approach. And it basically states that a person needs housing first, before they can even consider other things like learning how to read or holding down a job. 

[...] there's a need for affordable housing. What if we could bring real scalable investment to the communities by providing affordable housing. The 280,000 families applying for housing assistance is evidence alone that the government alone cannot keep up with the demand of affordable housing. We need scale efficiencies - to then possibly offer affordable housing for an entire portfolio of people -- but we need investors (who yes, want to make money) and we need banks who are willing to lend in these neighborhoods (not an easy task, i might add!)

It all costs money, but it saves more
“All this costs money,” admits Kaakinen. “But there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.”

The savings in terms of the services needed by one person can be up to 9,600 euros a year when compared to the costs that would result from that person being homeless, he adds.


Housing First argues that it’s much more difficult to solve any problems without having a roof over your head. In the words of one person who benefited from the scheme: “Homelessness also meant daily alcohol use. It was not so much about getting drunk, but a way to pass the time. When I’ve had an apartment, I’ve spent several months without drinking. You can’t get sober when you’re homeless, no one can.”


Part of the approach of Housing First is that a sense of community is very important. For instance, when a new housing block is built, much work is done in the local neighborhood at the same time.
That includes keeping the local community informed through open house events, encouraging residents to interact openly with the local community as well as working in the local community picking up litter and taking care of the neighborhood's green spaces.
When a new supported housing unit opens, it typically takes about two years for the area to get accustomed to the unit and its residents. It takes about the same amount of time for the unit’s residents to adjust well to the environment.

[...] Women’s homelessness has not decreased, even though homelessness and long-term homelessness in general has. Consequently, closer attention has been paid to solving and finding solutions to women’s homelessness.


Can this work abroad?
The Y-Foundation believes that the model can be replicated in Europe, even though housing conditions vary.
In the UK, a study by the homeless charity Crisis found that a policy of this kind in the UK could be more than five times as effective and nearly five times more cost-effective than existing services.
But a recent Government report concluded that, whilst the work of Housing First in Finland was to be commended, “we believe that resources should be focused on supporting more mainstream efforts to tackle homelessness and prevent instances of entrenched homelessness.”
Kaakinen says: “There is no quick fix to all life situations but a solid base provides the foundations upon which to improve the welfare of the homeless. The first step in change is the change in attitudes.”


Utah found that giving people supportive housing cost the system about half as much as leaving the homeless to live on the street.


Housing First is not a “program.” It is a whole-system orientation and response.

The problem goes back to thinking about Housing First as a program model. When we instead think of Housing First as an approach and a whole system orientation, it allows us to get away from “one-size-fits-all” solutions, and focus on matching the right level of housing assistance and services to people’s needs and strengths. 
  • There are some who might just need a bit of a financial boost and help with finding housing. 
  • Others may need a long-term rental assistance subsidy and support with their housing search, but not ongoing case management. 
  • And some people need permanent supportive housing, including long-term rental assistance or affordable housing coupled with case management supports.


Housing First is about health, recovery, and well-being. Housing itself is the foundation and platform for achieving these goals.

Housing First recognizes that health and recovery are so much more attainable when people have a safe and stable home.  


Given housing, education, and a supportive community - the homeless can change their lives.

Originally the way to end homelessness has been the STAIRCASE Model -- you stop drinking, you become housing ready (from shelter to group home / supportive housing) and then a rental apartment of your own.
Some homeless people can make it but not all (some drop back to homelessness). That is called the REVOLVING DOOR syndrome. This was the dominant model in the 1980s and it was state of the art at that time. 


Solving homelessness comes down to three aspects: 
1) PREVENTION from anybody ever becoming homeless in the first place. 
2) EMERGENCY RESPONSE by providing a safe haven to accommodate and house homeless people from dying/starving on the streets. 
3) RECONCILING homelessness back into non-homelessness by making people self-efficient once again (affordable housing. income. #knowledge #skills).
Prevention – Stopping people from becoming homeless in the first place. 
Emergency Response – Providing emergency supports like shelter, food and day programs, while someone is homeless. 
Housing, Accommodation, and Supports – The provision of housing and ongoing supports as a means of moving people out of homelessness.


In just a few short years the debate about whether Housing First works is over. The body of research from the United States, Europe and Canada attests to the success of the program, and it can now truly be described as a 'Best Practice'.

To break the cycle of homelessness and poverty though housing, education, and community. . .The only way to truly address the complex issue of homelessness is to tackle the root causes of poverty, empowering families to not only survive but to thrive. Children who grow up in poverty learn to survive, but not THRIVE.

The beginnings of fixing poverty and education --- equity for all kids. 
Not doing so, literally threatens our community security. An equality in education is essential.

The Housing First approach and it's great impact is much better than the Treatment First model.
It is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.
We must get families stabilized in HOMES. 

The solution to ending poverty starts with EMPATHY (knowing what it's like to want to be loved and have faith in society).

Breaking the cycle of poverty --  In other words - to meet people and serve people where they are.
The goal of the model is to ensure that families are educated. are healthy, and are employed.


Women in poverty don't need our help:  a combination of micro-finance, micro-consignment, and online learning is offering young women in Guatemala new pathways for success and financial independence.
We need to stop providing ephemeral supplies and aids to women, and we need to start supplying them with the TOOLS they need to resolve the problems for themselves instead of giving them the solutions ourselves. 

"A homeless person living on the street costs more money than if he is housed. We could end homelessness tomorrow if we had the political will to make that message known." -Sam Tsemberis

We can end homelessness. First though, Hughes says we need to stop shaming and blaming those who need our help most.
Whether it's parenting or doing our bit volunteering to help those less fortunate, the ego must get out of the way. This work is most authentic when we expect no rewards.  
Invest in women and children experiencing homelessness. Help them gain the momentum they need to help them achieve their dreams and goals. Your investment will pay far into the future!

Solving homelessness is possible but requires more than the efforts of individuals doing good work. Real change comes through innovative systems that enable ordinary people to create solutions and belong to a community.  REAL CHANGE, means that we have to create innovative systems where ordinary people can do extraordinary things.


Four steps to help solve homelessness:
1) The next President would make ending homelessness a top priority (without real national leadership we cannot solve homelessness).
2) A homeless BILL OF RIGHTS (to protect the civil and basic rights. People are discriminated everyday for being homeless).
3) New policies to support renters from mass evictions and help curb high rental costs (we need rent control).
4) New revenue to support giving our most vulnerable citizens housing opportunities (we need massive investments and affordable housing).

We need new and emerging leaders. We need strong and bold legislators. We need courage to build strong coalitions. We need new resources to give people a safe place to call home. 

First, you can just acknowledge homeless people. They are human beings. There is nothing more powerful in life than the power of human connectivity and love. It's something we all need and it's something we can all give. 


The "At Home/Chez Soi project", funded by the Mental Health Commission of Canada is the world’s most extensive examination of Housing First. They conducted a randomized control trial where 1000 people participated in Housing First, and 1000 received 'treatment as usual'. 
The results are startling: you can take the most hard core, chronically homeless person with complex mental health and addictions issues, and put them in housing with supports, and you know what? They stay housed. 
Over 80% of those who received Housing First remained housed after the first year. For many, use of health services declined as health improved. Involvement with the law declined as well. 
An important focus of the recovery orientation of Housing First is social and community engagement; many people were helped to make new linkages and to develop a stronger sense of self.

While the case studies in Housing First in Canada have shown that it is possible to develop a successful Housing First program even in a tight rental housing market, they were primarily successful through the use of rent supplements to increase affordability. Partnerships with existing private landlords were also shown to be very important.


The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone.
Housing is provided first and then supports are provided including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections.


Housing is not contingent upon readiness, or on ‘compliance’ (for instance, sobriety). Rather, it is a rights-based intervention rooted in the philosophy that all people deserve housing, and that adequate housing is a precondition for recovery.

There are five core principles of Housing First:
1. Immediate access to permanent housing with no housing-readiness requirements.
2. Clients are able to exercise some choice regarding the location and type of housing they receive.
3. Housing First practice is not simply focused on meeting basic client needs, but on supporting recovery. 
4. A client-driven approach recognizes that individuals are unique, and so are their needs. Once housed, some people will need minimum supports while other people will need supports for the rest of their lives (this could range from case management to assertive community treatment). Individuals should be provided with “a range of treatment and support services that are voluntary, individualized, culturally-appropriate, and portable (e.g. in mental health, substance use, physical health, employment, education)”Supports may address housing stability, health and mental health needs, and life skills.
5. Social and community integration. If people are housed and become or remain socially isolated, the stability of their housing may be compromised. 

Key features of social and community integration include:
  • Separation of housing and supports (except in the case of supportive housing)
  • Housing models that do not stigmatize or isolate clients. This is one reason why scattered site approaches are preferred.
  • Opportunities for social and cultural engagement are supported through employment, vocational and recreational activities.

The Application of Housing First
In order to fully understand how Housing First is applied in different contexts, it is important to consider different models. While there are core principles that guide its application, it is worth distinguishing Housing First in terms of: 
a) a philosophy
b) a systems approach
c) program models
d) team interventions

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE POOR TO NOT NEED YOU ANYMORE? The answer to that is jobs. It's if they get up and go to work and earn their own money. Jobs end poverty. 
The poor don't lack resources, they lack ACCESS.
Jobs (for the homeless) is what matters. 

The question is not how can we eradicate poverty.
The question must be how can we create prosperity.
This is not a resource problem... This is an innovation problem.
Innovation = practical solutions to real problems.
Now the one thing that these innovations have in common is that they make products SIMPLE, AFFORDABLE, CREATE JOBS, and ENABLE DEVELOPMENT.
Big time prosperity exists if we think about market creating innovations (that are affordable for everybody).
Focusing on these kinds of innovations is more important than ever.
We must stop focusing on eradicating poverty, and we have to start creating innovations that can lead to prosperity.

Community-Based Problem Solving
IN TIMES OF CRISES, people come together. During 9/11. During hurricanes. etc. How, in America, can you have someone that's living on the streets? 

We don't solve poverty by throwing money. We solve poverty by helping people create opportunities for themselves.

PLAN OF ACTION - HOMELESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP
  • Find out what a homeless person is good at doing.
  • Write a review/testimonials for them to kick start the reputation of their service for the public to trust in their ability to deliver the service successfully.
  • Market/promote the service to customers.
  • Thus then the homeless person has his first customer to start making him money, providing that service of his!

We could be spending far less and having much better outcomes for homeless people, and at the same time creating much better living communities across this country.
I want to see this holistic model scaled up and implemented in every community on our planet.

Homelessness is solvable --- what we're lacking is the collective moral outrage, and the political will to get it done.

We need to embrace radical change in how we connect all of the dots. (like a cell phone, the power and effectiveness is how they're all connected).


A holistic system
-- they're housed and off the streets
-- their health improves
-- they have an ability to become community contributors
*they're no longer in and out the streets (into hospitals and jails) etc. This saves tax dollars!

What people need is stable HOUSING with the ongoing services of mental health care, hospital care, substance abuse care.


Homelessness is not separate from domestic violence, or illness, or substance addiction -- that's not to say all homelessness people experience these problems -- but every one of these problems is connected to homelessness.

We need to change the way we do business ---- if we believe a system is a group of integrated parts forming a complex whole - then there is no health care system or mental health care system or homeless service delivery system.
There are health care programs and providers! Mental health care programs and providers! Homeless service programs and providers! But integrated on a large consistent scale across the country? IT DOESN'T EXIST. Instead of having silos of programs serving homeless people as if they're one dimensional -- why don't we create holistic systems of care that are genuinely fully integrated and address all of their needs. Until we have a fully integrated system, we are never going to solve this problem.


The first insight was this small population of the homeless group that was 15% were very expensive. That made sense for a conservative state like Utah.
The second insight was learning about this Housing First, or low-barrier housing.
There had been an agency in New York City that had been inviting mentally ill homeless individuals to move directly from the street into housing. And they were also allowed to continue to use drugs and to drink, just like we can in our homes.
In addition, they offered services -- not required by them to use them -- but on-site case managers to assist them to adjust to their new living arrangements and to stabilize their lives. They were using the harm reduction modelAnd despite my initial low expectations about hearing about this model, they were having an astonishing success rate: 85% were still housed after 12 months.
The third insight was the importance of developing a trusting relationship. Because of the abuse these individuals have had throughout most of their lives, they hardly trust anybody, and the clean needles and condoms and low-barrier housing was a means to begin to develop a relationship of trust. #Vital.

We became believers, and built hundreds of units over those next 10 years, leading to the reduction of our statewide chronic homeless population of 91 percent.



Misconceptions (Overview)

"There’s different needs that exist in the homeless population,” Haro said. “It’s not a homogenous population, if you will. It’s often just people like you and I who fall on hard times."

Stephen Hitchcock, executive director at The Haven, said services such as Region Ten — which assists those struggling with mental health, disability or substance abuse — and the Departments of Social Services and Veterans Affairs connect with guests as part of the organization’s “Housing First” mission, acknowledging homelessness as a housing crisis. Hitchcock said the shelter-based approach does not adequately address the sheer lack of affordable housing at the root of homelessness. ... The lack of affordable housing and the high cost of living in Charlottesville leave many in need of The Haven’s assistance.

“It’s actually cheaper to house individuals and families than it is to just manage their homelessness,” Hitchcock said. “There’s also this fiscal component…. Most people think ‘oh, housing people that’s gotta be so expensive,’ instead of keeping them in a shelter. But it’s the opposite.”

Let's acknowledge these tough truths and move forward. Let's stop blaming those homeless for being born poor, and growing up poor and ending up poor as if it's somehow their fault. Instead, let's look at systemic underpinnings of inequity that perpetuates cycles of poverty. 

No one grows up saying, "My goal in life is to become homeless." And that's the beauty of the harm reduction and Housing First model. It recognizes the complexities of the different factors that can shape a human life. These models meet people where they are, not where we are, or where we think they should be.

“Going from homelessness into a home changes a person’s psychological identity from outcast to member of the community,” Tsemberis says.

The old model “was well-intentioned but misinformed. It is a long stairway that required sobriety and required stability in order to get into housing. So many people could never achieve that while on the street. You actually need housing to achieve sobriety and stability, not the other way around. But that was the system that was there. Some people called it a housing readiness industry, because all these programs were in business to improve people to get them ready for housing. Improve their character, improve their behavior, improve their moral standing. There is also this attitude about poor people, like somehow they brought this upon themselves by not behaving right.” By contrast, he adds, “Housing First provides a new sense of belonging that is reinforced in every interaction with new neighbors and other community members. We operate with the belief that housing is a basic right. Everyone on the streets deserves a home. He or she should not have to earn it, or prove they are ready or worthy.”

We've got to let go of who we think these homeless people are - because you have no idea who they are until you talk to them. They could be mothers, children, and yes, they can be drug addicts and ex-cons, and the populations that we feel it's OK to neglect.
But the one thing they have in common is that they don't have a personal support network/family to support them in their time of need. 


CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS
-- lack of affordable housing
-- poor economy
-- mental health
-- substance abuse
But I believe it is the loss of community that is the underlying factor in homelessness (inherent in which is: educational and support systems).

The poor don't need our pity, they need our partnership. We must move away the trap of "them" and "us". If you can help re-change the narrative, the impoverished might be able to get the resources they need that will make their lives better. Ending poverty is about doing for ourselves because what's good for the poor will ultimately end up being good for all of us too.  

Maybe we can stop blaming people about being poor and in poverty. Instead, let's learn about poverty. 
TWO ways to do that: a site visit to a homeless shelter. Or learn through published reports.
We can end generational poverty one at a time. It is all about removing the barriers. 

No one chooses to be homeless. The abuse they experience is horrible and sad. If we're going to end suffering, we're all going to have to slow down and get involved in some way...... 

The poor are not making dumb decisions because they are dumb, but they're living in a context in which anyone would make dumb decisions.
Investments in education are ineffective -- poverty is NOT a lack of knowledge. 
We so often treat the symptoms but ignore the underlying cause of poverty. 


Religiosity and the more number of kids, the higher is the meaning of life.
The richer the country - the lower the meaning of life.
Education is inversely related to the meaning of life. So am i advocating toward lowering education? No. But take off the glasses and go explore.

Some people might see these homelessness as junkies, but they are incredible men and women, who have incredible hearts.

Imagine being homeless - you're cold, you're wet. Where will you sleep tonight? Will you be safe? Will you be assaulted? Worst yet, will you be sexually assaulted.
You ask, "why are people staring at me?" Your thoughts are racing so fast it's hard to concentrate. Your entire body is tired and tense. You have sleep deprivation. You're told you're number 522 on the wait-list for housing at the local shelter. It's an estimated 2 years that you have to live the hell that is homelessness. And you have become a criminal for no other reason than not having a safe place to call home in your own country.

As a human being I didn't want your money - I just wanted you to look at me like a human being; instead you looked at me with shame, disgust, hatred. It's wrong. If you don't talk to me how can you know who I am and what I am, if you don't talk to me. What you do, is you show them love, and they have to respond.

I used to think that the response to homelessness just needed to be food, clothing, and shelter. But I realized I'm more than those three things. A big part of me is community. The people around me. My goals and my dreams.

Homeless can and does happen to all types of people. 
How do people become homeless?
It's rarely just one thing that happens. It's typically a series of things. 
-- lack of resources / money is always one of the issues.
-- breakups of a relationship or a severe event can cause somebody to lose their housing.
-- alcohol and drug addiction
-- people with developmental disabilities (caregivers unable to take care of them anymore).
-- people leaving prison who need a place to start over.
-- physical and mental illnesses (which are often untreated).

There's 3 types of homelessness
-- transitional: a medical catastrophe. It can be any one of us.
-- episodic: they go in and out of homeless. They have behavioral issues that need to be taken care of. They become chronic.
-- chronic: these are people who really need help and resources.

If you think that leaving people on the streets isn't costing you anything, you're wrong.. we're spending a fortune in police, paramedic, jail, and hospital costs most of which is covered by citizen tax dollars.

Homeless people do not need our pity or deserve our scorn.
They all want a chance to connect and belong with others, to share their gifts and talents.

The challenges facing homeless people are not isolated one-off solutions. They're integrated. But we don't treat them holistically. 
We continue to serve homeless people on the cheap (bucket by bucket rather than holistically). These bucket to bucket contributions are not adequate on their own.

We need to stop placing the burden of escaping poverty on the individuals experiencing it, and start breaking down the crushing systems that keep people there. Like when we try to help people escape poverty by achieving self sufficiency, when in fact what we have is a structural problem. There are far too many jobs in our economy that just don't pay a living wage. Presumably, we need all these jobs, so let's think of a way to structure it so that parents who are working full-time or more earn enough to support their families.


Initially, critics feared Utah would lose tons of money by giving the homeless permanent housing, and that doing so would just "incentivize mooching," as Minhaj put it. However, state officials found Housing First actually saving the government money over time, especially as it encourages people to become more self-sufficient sooner.
Moreover, Housing First homes are not free: New tenants have to pay $50 or 30% of their income to rent each month (whichever amount is greater).
Between shelters, jail stays, ambulances, and hospital visits, caring for one homeless person typically costs the government $20,000 a year. Providing one homeless person with permanent housing, however — as well as a social worker to help them transition into mainstream society — costs the state $8,000, The New Yorker reported in September.
"Perhaps the most potent question raised by the program's success is how safety nets, including a home to which people return each night, impact people," Utah newspaper Deseret News wrote in an editorial last year. "There are two possibilities: first, safety nets undermine personal responsibility, or, alternatively, safety nets allow for mitigated risk-taking - and which can lead to real growth."




Effects (Overview)

The stresses of growing up in poverty permanently alter the wiring and the brains of developing children, lowering their resilience and increasing their chances for a number of serious physical and emotional problems.

Rather than merely providing direct services, we aim to build equity in our community by reforming systems and policies.
We began by going door to door to see how they saw their community and to ask what help they needed. It is about doing things, not for people, but with people. This is a small-scale approach to ending systemic poverty.
Early childhood intervention -- if we can prepare a child to learn and stay on that path until 3rd grade, then they are on the path toward success. We are saving money on future spending on these individuals as well.
The critical need to build affordable housing!

I have learned over and over again that when you listen to somebody's story with an open heart, walk in their shoes with them, you can't help but love and care for them and want to serve them.
This is why I'm committed to continuing to bring hope and support to our homeless citizens, who I consider to be my brothers and sisters.


Homelessness is a direct result of disconnection with each other and our communities.


If you're aboriginal. If you have a disability. If you've just been released from an institution (mental health institute, or prison), or maybe you don't have any social network in your community - you're going to be more at risk for homelessness. So take that, and add to it that you just lost your job, or you just got a divorce. Or consider that you have mental cognitive impairments that relate to mental health or addictions or a brain injury. So when these individual factors collide with those big social factors -- all of a sudden you're homeless. 

Many people fall into homelessness and are trapped in such state because of the failings of our government, our support services, and our health systems. Due to lack of resources? Yes. Policy directives and funding requirements impose constraints and limitations. 

Social organizations and non-profits have been setup to compete with each other (for funding), thus they do not even have the capacity to do the job they want to do. And neither can they broadcast helpful information. #PARADOX
As demand increases and problems continue, so do the experiences of learned HELPLESSNESS. We see more disconnects at community and social networks. Without a community plan and resources to implement it, we see a diffusion of responsibility and a lack of accountability. Inaction also occurs because of personal biases and prejudices: "get a good job! keep up with the Jones's!" 
Add to this, the stigma of alcohol and drug addiction and mental health issues - and this translates into deep fears and threats of personal identity. It plays out as misinterpretation of homelessness as a moral and ethical issue - when in reality it is a health and human rights issue. It's been out most vulnerable citizens who have felt the full force of such.

One of the insidious disconnects really is reflected in our own discomfort when we face someone living in homelessness. What causes us to look away and to avoid eye contact? I'd suggest it's a lack of self respect. Because as we look away, we deny and disconnect from that very part of us - because it's our humanity which calls us to act, to offer some assistance, or to simply acknowledge the presence of another. Fortunately, our culture is becoming increasingly conscious - we're raising our awareness.

Global Citizens can start to address homelessness by recognizing the discomfort we feel when we encounter a homeless person. That discomfort is an indication that homelessness is unnatural and inhumane, he said.
“I do believe that all of us sacrifice part of our humanity by being able to walk past a homeless person,” Tsemberis said. “It goes against human instinct. You have to shove a piece of yourself down to walk by someone who is suffering in the street.”
“We owe it to them,” he continued. “And we owe it to ourselves to restore a sense of community and humanity."


The homeless have stories to tell. 
  • When we begin to repair relationships and connect as people, only then will we overcome the pain of the streets and rekindle the human spirit. 
  • The people on the streets may be hungry - but they are hungry for so much more than food. 
  • They are hungry for LOVE. 
  • They are hungry for HOPE. 
  • And they are hungry for HUMAN CONNECTION. 

Homelessness is not just about a lack of housing. It's about trauma. It's about emotional pain and broken connections.

When we open peoples hearts, we often open people's minds. 
If you're poor enough, and you're schooling is bad enough - you don't really have an opportunity to compete.
We are wealthy yet we are poor.
Giving your aid and money is not a real solution to poverty.

Through her own research and personal experience, Jennifer Gurecki has learned that conceptualizing poverty as only lack of financial resources will not help us end poverty. 
Understanding how other forms of capital – social, natural, and human – contribute to poverty is essential to grasping the complexity of poverty and ultimately how each of us can become part of the solution to ending it. 

Chronic stress is prevalent among the poor -- such is linked to weight issues, and early death. Living in poverty can literally kills us.
Poverty affects our memory, focus, follow-through, motor skills, behavioral control, language memory (the effects of poverty on executive functioning).
If we've been experiencing this stress for years -- our brain wiring changes.

I thrived (to get out of poverty) because of a combination of having a family, public housing, welfare money, and a gray haired man who donated $20 to me for an applications fee.
There's a difference between situational poverty (losing job), and persistent poverty (you NEVER have enough money). The difference between being broke, and being broken.
Why is there still so much poverty? Because we often treat the results of somebody living in poverty, and not the root cause of why someone is in poverty.
People living in poverty don't want handouts. People in poverty don't want gifts. People in poverty don't want more service. People living in poverty want barriers removed so they can get access to job training, and a job so they can take care of themselves and their families. I know this, I was once them.


Each time we fear to make eye-contact with a homeless person we pass, we carry on this stigmatization and we are perpetuating that stripping away of that person's humanity. 
Us labeling them as not wanting to get a job contributes to their mental health problems.
When numerous people begin to label you into something, you yourself begin to believe it (Labeling Theory) [if somebody labels you as deviant, you will commit deviant behavior].

People disconnect from the poor out of cowardice | pride | selfishness | greed; all of which are vices.

Moments of acknowledgement means everything to the homeless folks.  
We each have this ability to make a profound difference in the lives of the homeless and it will in turn make a profound difference in your own life.

When we turn people's life's around, it's not just their lives. It's the children, their grandchildren; their whole families.


Homelessness can happen to any of us, if our personal circumstances and our economic hardship collide. But if we keep the status quo, inequality will only grow. We have to build communities that are inclusive and that treat people with Dignity; that are accountable so that we are all safe, and our well-being is achieved.
Solutions to homelessness are possible but they take more than the good works of individuals.

Solving a housing crises, domestic violence, mental illness, unemployment and poverty are all interconnected.

Homelessness is a major public health issue that needs a response. People live on our streets at risk of dying. 
51% have a high mortality risk.
55% in treatment for mental health.
32% had a brain injury.
50% had been victims of crime after they were homeless.

The poor do not trust because they know that the rest of us will allow the corrupt system to flourish. 

HOMELESSNESS creates emotions of shame, fear, despair, helplessness, hopelessness.

Next time you see a homeless person, please acknowledge them. 
It can help them so much. 
I've seen a doctor and a lawyer living in these shelters. 
It can happen to someone you love.

I really believe that by choosing to say 'someone is experiencing homelessness", rather than labeling them a homeless person, has the power to make a difference. 
MEANING, before we can attempt to even assist them with a bed, we need to accept that they are carrying the weight of a label and shame that's associated with being a homeless person.

The worst thing about being homeless is not the cold and not the hunger. It's the fact that people walk by you and look down at you like it's your fault.


Facts & Statistics (Overview)

We spend over a trillion dollars on poverty in America, and yet our poverty rate is far higher than most of the developed world, and is more than double that of our biggest global competitor - China.

There are 16 million children living in poverty in the USA.

15% of the homeless population can consume 50 to 60 percent of the homeless resources available in a community, and can cost the community $20,000 to $45,000 dollars a year per person in emergency services costs (EMT runs, emergency room visits, addictions, interactions with the police, jail time).
Simply put, this small population costs a lot.

For every 1 person you see homeless on the street, more than likely there's 4 other people who are homeless (hidden from view).
What's the #1 reason for homelessness? POVERTY.

...alongside rising rents and declining wages, Canada remains the only G8 country that doesn't have a national housing strategy. So here we are with growing poverty.


"Affordable housing" is defined as affordable if you're not paying more than 30% of your income in rent.


Over 1 million blacks moved to Chicago between 1910 - 1960. They moved to only 3-4 specific districts because they were only allowed to move there. Therefore, banks were unwilling to lend in those neighborhoods. There were restrictions in these districts made up of 90% of blacks. Home-ownership was nearly impossible. A real estate practice known as "blockbusting". 
Blockbusting: the practice of persuading owners to sell property cheaply because of the fear of people of another race or class moving into the neighborhood, and thus profiting by reselling at a higher price.
It's estimated that between 1940 - 1970, the practice of blockbusting and contract selling cost the black population $500 Million.


Affordable housing is a challenge globally faced today, with about 235 million households worldwide suffering with housing poverty. 

[...] permanent supportive housing has been found to be cost efficient. Providing access to housing generally results in cost savings for communities because housed people are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails, and emergency shelter, than those who are homeless. One study found an average cost savings on emergency services of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

Children from fatherless households are more likely to be depressed, they're more likely to drop out of school, they're more likely to be incarcerated -- thereby these facts and data are then resulting in more prisons being built - and once those prisons are being built, they have to be occupied (thus the shitty laws that keep people in the criminal justice system unjustly).


15% of the United States is poor and lives in poverty. That's 44 million people.
A family of 4 living on $24,000 annually is considered living in poverty. 


The cost of child poverty in the US is estimated at 500Billion per year (i.e. higher health care spending. higher drop out rates. more crime). 
For 175B, you could lift all impoverished Americans above the poverty line.
THE COST TO END POVERTY = $175 Billion


If you earn $8/hr, you would need to work over 100 hours a week to be able to afford a 1 bedroom apartment.

What causes so many people to suffer from homelessness?
Most financial services are not built to serve low-income households. In fact, they often do more harm than good. 
Fees and interest (riba) (high overdraft fees) (exploitative payday loans) etc. accumulated into over $141 Billion in 2015 (financially undeserved Americans spent). <--- makes it more expensive to be poor in this country than to have wealth. 
When a person doesn't have a bank account for minimum balance requirements or high overdraft charges, that person will spend on avg. $500 a year in extra transaction costs alone. Furthermore, the housing costs are un-affordable for low-wage workers (on fixed income).


“Cultural homelessness” breeds extremists 
THE PROOF OF REASONING BASED ON EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT The more people felt discrimination, the more they felt a lack of significance, thus then cultural homelessness, thus then support for radicalism groups.


***You can't just give these guys a job and an income, and expect them not to go and spend it on alcohol. We had to provide counseling. An hours worth once a week. It would be compulsory as part of their employment (they had to turn up to this session).
~~The homeless understand that it's a trained professional who will check in with them once a week and it's a safe place for them to express themselves.
Homeless members can be fully functional in society.

Spending $503,000 and proactively addressing the health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness in Brisbane AUS saved between $6.45-$6.9 million dollars. 

The poor have a higher ability to read emotions accurately (knowing whether to trust somebody or not). They are also more generous.
Participants in a Housing First program, when compared with those who received TAU, spent less time homeless, spent less time hospitalized, and had enhanced use of needed services, including substance use treatment and mental health, medical, dental, and vision care. 

A Housing First program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2007 and 2008 showed favorable results for people who had been homeless for five years or longer and were also struggling with mental health and substance use challenges (Tsemberis, Kent, & Respress, 2012).

Homelessness affects many Americans, including veterans, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ people, people involved in the criminal justice system, families, and many children. 

Homelessness and the social costs it spawns can be eliminated.  

Poverty is not new. Modern day homelessness is.
Poverty means the lack of material possessions or money.
Homelessness is simply not having a home.

Homelessness in America is at an all time high. It's a natural disgrace.

A concurrent investment in affordable housing is necessary to ensure an end to homelessness.

How are the needs of sub-populations met through Housing First? It is clear from existing research that one size does not fit all. However, Housing First can be adapted to suit most communities and sub-populations. Unique needs require unique answers. What will work in Houston may not work in Montreal. What works for single adults may not work for youth. Adapting the program to meet the needs of a particular sub-population is key to ensuring success.
What is the duration and extent of supports, and who is responsible for funding them? In some cases Housing First programs provide a time limited investment in supports, ranging from one to three years. For those who need ongoing supports, effective models for continued engagement with mainstream services need to be explored.
Once housed do people have adequate income to meet basic needs on an ongoing basis? A goal for most communities is that people who are housed should pay no more than 30% of their income on rent. The use of rent supplements is key to ensure that people are able to survive and thrive in housing. In many cases, people are able to “graduate” from a Housing First program in so far as they no longer require active supports, but they still need ongoing financial assistance.


Chicago, Denver, Dallas, are now starting to implement programs where they bring the DIGNITY OF EMPLOYMENT (work) to the equation.


While we've always had very poor and homeless people as part of our society, widespread homelessness today has only become prevalent over the last 30 years.
There are many reasons for this:
-- Policy decisions many decades ago that shut down many mental institutions. 
-- The loss of jobs and declining wages that help people obtain and keep their housing.
-- The widening income gap that's pushing more people into poverty.
-- The proliferation of highly addictive and very cheap street drugs (crack cocaine; crystal meth)
-- Veterans returning from war without adequate support to keep them from falling into homelessness.
-- The high cost of housing especially in our urban areas where low income people simply cannot afford to pay their rents.
-- Jails and prisons and foster care - which continue to discharge people into homelessness.
The challenge is not to understand what created the problems; the challenges to understand is how do we get out of this mess. 

Over the last 30 years, we've spent billions of dollars funding homelessness services across the country.
We've spent billions and billions of dollars in health care dollars treating homeless people in hospitals. Law enforcement dollars incarcerating them. Mental health dollars treating them. Added together, we're talking about billions and billions of dollars and yet we haven't made significant progress. 

In Los Angeles , the numbers are increasing. Why!? It's NOT A LACK OF RESOURCES. It's the lack of a holistic fully-integrated comprehensive service-system that addresses all of the multiple and complex needs of the homeless people, and then uses our resources in a targeted way to meet those needs.
Just as we know that humans are comprised of BODY MIND AND SPIRIT, we also know that it's impossible to make lasting change without a holistic SYSTEM.

Housing people is 31.6% cheaper than keeping them homeless.

We've saved over $5,000,000 while housing over 600 people. So we had that community trust.

The savings in terms of the services needed by one person can be up to 9,600 euros a year when compared to the costs that would result from that person being homeless.




Criticalities (Overview)

[...] And in residential areas where new housing blocks were established, many residents were unhappy. They were worried that it would adversely affect their neighborhood.

There was, however, some work to be done on attitudes. For example, the unconditional housing was hard to accept by some people in NGOs which had previously been working with a different set of values.

Chronic housing shortages contribute to homelessness.

The model for dealing with the chronically homeless at that time, both here and in most places across the nation, was to get them “ready” for housing by guiding them through drug rehabilitation programs or mental-health counseling, or both. If and when they stopped drinking or doing drugs or acting crazy, they were given heavily subsidized housing on the condition that they stay clean and relatively sane. This model, sometimes called “linear residential treatment” or “continuum of care,” seemed to be a good idea, but it didn’t work very well because relatively few chronically homeless people ever completed the work required to become “ready,” and those who did often could not stay clean or stop having mental episodes, so they lost their apartments and became homeless again.

New housing needs to be found, or built, but with the market so tight, finding housing—any housing—is a huge challenge, one made worse when Gov. Jerry Brown slashed all $1.7 billion of the state’s redevelopment funds during the 2011 budget crisis.

What if we don’t make them pass any tests or fill out any forms? They aren’t any good at that stuff. Inability to pass tests and fill out forms was a large part of how they ended up homeless in the first place. 

Still, the new paradigm was slow to catch on. Old practices are sometimes hard to give up, even when they don’t work. When Housing First was initially proposed in Salt Lake City, some homeless advocates thought the new model would be a disaster. Also, it would be hard to sell the ultra-conservative Utah Legislature on giving free homes to drug addicts and alcoholics. And the Legislature would have to back the idea because even though most of the funding for new construction would come from the federal government, the state would have to pick up the balance and find ways to plan, build, and manage the new units. And where are you going to put them? Not in my backyard.

Jennifer Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness said the problem has always been the money, and said the city needs “a sustained revenue source to double the housing units for homeless people, and to do prevention to keep people in their homes and to not become homeless to begin with.”

As housing costs increase and incomes stagnate around the globe, homelessness is getting worse.
The number of homeless people in France increased by nearly 50% between 2001 and 2012 and in Germany, the total homeless population rose by 35% between 2012 and 2014.
In Australia, one in 20 are homeless. 
Homelessness is also on the rise throughout Brazil’s biggest cities. 
Earlier this month, 20,000 homeless residents of Sao Paulo demonstrated to demand more affordable housing. According to the Sao Paulo government, the number of people sleeping on the streets nearly doubled between 2000 and 2015. 

About 60,000 homeless people still rely on the New York City municipal shelter system every night.

At the same time that housing affordability has worsened, government at every level has cut back on already-inadequate housing assistance for low-income people and has reduced investments in building and preserving affordable housing. Finally, the weakening of rent regulation laws, which help keep around half of all rental apartments in New York City affordable, has accelerated the loss of low-cost housing.

Homelessness is often perceived as a shameful personal failing or a natural consequence of severe mental illness, and that stigma has helped give rise to a series of complex requirements that homeless people are mandated to meet before being given housing.

Many people with mental health and substance use conditions lose access to housing because of poverty and disruption of personal relationships related to their disability, and about 27% of homeless people have serious mental illnesses.

“The Housing First program sustained an approximately 80% housing retention rate, a rate that presents a profound challenge to clinical assumptions held by many Continuum of Care supportive housing providers who regard the chronically homeless as ‘not housing ready.’ 

It is not uncommon that people start out only wanting housing and not services. Housing First accepts such people, rejected in the past, and provides the services they need to help them keep their housing, while offering to increase services as the need becomes apparent. Case managers meet people where and as they are and start building trust, which, in practice, works much better than insisting on providing services as a condition of providing housing.   
The greatest ongoing difficulty encountered in Housing First programs is in maintaining enough vacant units to minimize waiting periods while guaranteeing ongoing availability of permanent housing to people already being served. This requires ongoing development of new housing, which in turn requires surmounting funding and zoning barriers. 

Programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) should be expanded, which provide incentives for real estate developers to invest in housing that is accessible to low-income individuals.
Communities should review zoning, transportation, and related policies to ensure that low-income housing developed in inclusive and promotes economic mobility for individuals with mental health conditions.


It is also critical that public benefit design and administration, such as Social Security Insurance, reinforce Housing First approaches. 

During transitions in housing or after a period of institutionalization, such as hospitalization or incarceration, public benefits should immediately consider the full costs of housing and avoid any “look back” that disadvantages Housing First.
Benefits administration should be coordinated with institutions to ensure that benefits immediately consider changes in living situation when an individual returns to the community.

It is imperative that mental health and substance use treatment providers expand their reach to include permanent supportive housing, whether as part of clinical community support outreach and ACT programs, or in partnership with housing providers. To accomplish this, federal, state and local funding policy must be changed.

Based on the current estimates of the unserved need, federal rental housing assistance should be quadrupled, and states and localities should recognize the imperative to develop a robust array of government-sponsored housing alternatives to respond to the nationwide epidemic of homelessness. 
Part of this will also need to include concomitant increases in programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to ensure the availability of low-income housing options in different communities, and review of zoning, transportation, and other policies that promote inclusive development.

Job loss, long-term unemployment, lack of affordable housing options, and gentrification are all contributing factors to homelessness.
In San Francisco only 10 percent of the substantial funds spent on the homeless is focused on keeping people housed.
San Francisco now spends nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on homelessness each year. That works out to nearly $35,000 per homeless person, given the latest count. The problem is how the money is spent and how programs are coordinated.

I would characterize the current approach as scattershot (random and haphazard). The underlying causes of homelessness are so varied, and the homeless population so diverse, that a myriad of programs have emerged in an attempt to deal with the entire spectrum. San Francisco now has 400 separate contracts for services with over 70 different nonprofit community groups. These community organizations provide mental health services, addiction programs, employment training, emergency housing and more.

It is difficult to counter neighborhood fears that unsavory occupants will lead to lower property values and a deteriorating neighborhood.

The “Not In My Backyard” attitude toward housing people experiencing homelessness is not new, but the level of protest for the project is unprecedented, according to The Mercury News, a local San Jose newspaper.

Mental illness is prevalent among the homeless, and we have failed as a society to provide community mental health strategies after California, and then the nation, retreated from centrally funded treatment centers in the late 1960s through the early 1980s.

We incarcerate many and provide little to help those released to re-enter society. Many become homeless. 
Drugs are prevalent, cheap and quickly destructive, often leading to homelessness and acute health problems.

The implication is that it is only the lack of shelter that makes someone homeless. But someone with mental illness, isolated in a tiny dwelling, is not likely to be able to live independently.
Were these small dwellings aggregated in a community then there is both the security and independence of a home, but also the support and services that can help them stay in that home. 


I think it’s incorrect to think of Housing First as a permanent supportive housing model, or as a program at all for that matter.
When we think of Housing First as a program, it creates the illusion that Housing First is just one among many choices for responding to homelessness. This sets up a dynamic in which individual programs are pitted against one another. The discussion ends up being about whether we should choose this program or that program, and whether one program is right and another one wrong. It leads to an absurd debate about whether permanent housing or emergency shelters are the solution to homelessness, when both play important but completely different roles. Thinking about Housing First as a program leads to divisions, factions, and conflicts—none of which are helpful in the effort to end homelessness.

And it’s also true that providing permanent housing without services to people who have chronic health challenges may be irresponsible.  
Again, this is not about choosing this program or that program, but looking at whether the system as a whole is effective.

There are certain things that Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing both are not. First of all, Housing First is NOT “housing only”. I would posit that in most instances getting people housed is relatively easy compared to the hard work of supporting them to stay housed. 
Neither Housing First nor Rapid Re-Housing are a fad. They each are proven to be successful when practiced in a certain manner with a specific client group. 
There is no such thing as a “sober” or “dry” Housing First or Rapid Re-Housing program. Participants may choose to abstain, but abstinence cannot be a pre-requisite for program participation. 

Service providers have observed that while chronically homeless people represent only 20% of shelter users, they consume the largest share of health, social, and justice services. Malcom Gladwell’s “Million-Dollar Murray” eloquently illustrates how a combination of homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse can lead to repeated and costly interactions with multiple service systems. Available estimates of the economic costs that homeless people in Canada generate vary widely. In one study, combining administrative data from several systems for about 5000 homeless people with SMI in New York City, average annual service use costs were US$40,500 per person. Thus the overall costs of services can be considerable, suggesting the potential for significant cost offsets, at least among the highest-cost users.

Housing First does not require people experiencing homelessness to address all of their problems including behavioral health problems, or to graduate through a series of services programs before they can access housing. Housing First does not mandate participation in services either before obtaining housing or in order to retain housing.

Federal funding for affordable housing has dipped tremendously between 2009 - 2013. We are experiencing a rental housing crises.  

The idea that I have to get my crap together before I can get a house has to be eliminated. Because there are legitimate barriers to getting housing.
-- Mental health issues is one of those. 
-- Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol).
-- Physical disabilities. 

It wasn't that long ago that finding a job to get out of poverty was pretty straightforward. Jobs were plentiful and you didn't need a lot of education to find a good job and decent wages in construction, transportation, or the public sector. But the world has changed drastically since then. Family sustaining jobs now require education beyond high-school, public supports for the poor have been slashed, and the bottom half of Americans are losing earnings.  

Housing doesn't solve everything. when a homeless person receives the keys to his apartment, he begins asking where are the keys to my life, where are the keys to my future. so the hunger for meaningfulness (meaningful work) grows.
You have to start from their strengths and capabilities. Not from their failings. "Nobody has yet failed in the future".. there are NO hopeless cases.




"The richest country on earth and yet you let your citizens live like abandoned animals on streets." -Moral outrage!