Resolving Poverty

Poverty: the state of being extremely poor. 
Homeless: the state of having no home; (of a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets.

displaced, destitute, dispossessed, down-and-out, itinerant, refugee, vagrant, outcast, vagabond, derelict, wandering, abandoned, desolate, forlorn, forsaken, friendless, unsettled, unwelcome, estranged, houseless
The difference between poverty and homelessness
Poverty is an underlying cause of homelessness. The circumstances of poverty that can lead a person to become homeless include: having little money, debt, a lack of education, poor mental and physical health, disability, reliance on public housing, living in sub-standard accommodation and social exclusion, etc. (source).

Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets. (source).

What is poverty? 
Quite simply, poverty is a line. A line separating all Americans by one measurement: income. Those who earn over a certain threshold live above the poverty line; those with greater financial challenges live in poverty. For those living in poverty, life’s everyday hardships create a constant struggle to survive. (source).

Poverty also has a profound impact on a person’s health and well-being. A strong body of evidence highlights poverty as a key influence for adverse outcomes in children’s health and well-being in their first 1,000 days.

Body. When you're hungry and cold.
Mind. When you don't have an education.
Opportunity. When every door seems closed.

How are poverty and homelessness linked? 
Homelessness is one of the most extreme manifestation of poverty. There is both national and international evidence that highlights the link between poverty and homelessness. (source).

History of Homelessness.pdf History of Homelessness.pdf
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Who is Homeless & Why.pdf Who is Homeless & Why.pdf
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Bright highlights in shades of orange green yellow pink point to insights and pro/for statements concurrent with the opinion(s) of experts on the topic homelessness and and it's means of resolution.
  • Red highlight signifies refusal, non-acceptance, dismissal, dogmatism, challenges, negation, and/or moot points opposing the conclusive notions of the methods, attitudes, and facts pertaining to resolving homelessness [via the Housing First framework].
  • Gray highlight signifies additional and tangential information and knowledge of the primary points articulated within the text.
  • Bold text signifies a degree of importance and assertion in statement, or heading / title.
  • Underline signifies context, importance, and validity of facts and theory.
One is suggested to read as many articles as one wishes, in direct relation to one's yearning to wholesomely understand the subject of homelessness and poverty at large. Each article touches upon the topic as articulated by experts and the studies conducted. Detailed specifics, analysis, and conclusive evaluations are elaborated furthermore in the longer articles thereby providing inferences and directive notions therein.

The embedded videos and article links serve as primary sources, and have been included for the optional purpose of  viewership and evidence-based observation, and/or a fuller articulation in context of the information already provided within the text on this website.

The purpose of this website is not to persuade but to provide a multi-faceted synopsis of modern-day research by experts (ranging from professors to social workers, entrepreneurs to academicians and writers, to publishers and many more, including folks with direct experiences in homelessness) regarding homelessness and it's history - past, present, and future - in terms of the variables and theories at play, and most relevant, for alleviating it's effects and impact upon individuals, families, communities, and the world at large.

All sources were published between the years 2011 and 2019.
2011 = one source
2012 = three sources
2013 = nine sources
2014 = fourteen sources
2015 = fifteen sources
2016 = eighteen sources
2017 = twenty-two sources
2018 = ten sources
2019 = five sources
Total sources = 96

Sources 1-8:

Million-Dollar Murray

Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage.

The problem of homelessness may be easier to solve than we often believe, and at a lower price. But there are other costs, and questions.

The problem is concentrated in a very small number of people who are profoundly troubled.

If these guys cost that much money just by living on the streets, it's cheaper to take them off the street, give them an apartment and assign a full time caseworker to make sure they get back on their medication, back on their feet [...].

They're getting jobs. They're paying their own rent. It's possible, if you provide the right kind of context and give people some attention, we can save them.

SIMON: You certainly know, Mr. Gladwell, that the objection to this that some people have is political and even moral. Do you wind up concentrating a fantastic amount of resources on people who are chronic drug abusers or chronically drunk and ignoring the mother of three who is simply down on her luck?
GLADWELL: If you don't do anything, they'll cost you a hundred grand a year. If you do something, give them an apartment and a caseworker, they'll cost you $25,000 year. We're doing this not out of the kindness of our hearts necessarily. This is such a kind of bizarre social thing, but we're doing this because we think we can save the City of New York and the City of Washington D.C. and the City of San Francisco millions of dollars a year, which we can use on other things. That's why we're doing it. That's our first impulse. It's cheaper.

Malcolm Gladwell's February 13, 2006 article in The New Yorker, Million-Dollar Murray, follows a Reno, Nevada homeless man named Murray Barr.

We KNOW that it is cheaper to give a homeless person somewhere to live than to keep them on the street.

SIMON: Let me get back though to the mother of three who's down on her luck. Should we not feel morally uncomfortable about not coming up with a solution for her?
GLADWELL: Yes. I think you're absolutely right. The thing that's driving this strategy towards homelessness is the notion that we have a very limited amount of money, a very limited amount of political will. And what are we going to do with that? Well, we're going to concentrate it on the worst part of the problem in the place where we can save the most money in the short term. That does not mean that we should ignore everybody else. But that's a separate argument, really. I mean what we're trying to show here is, can we, in a relatively short period of time, strike at the core of the problem? And if we can show that we can do that, then I would hope, I would hope that we would then take a step back and say, okay, let's start dealing with people who are also troubled but just not in the same immediate dire straits. I hope we don't stop at this.
MillionDollarMurray.pdf MillionDollarMurray.pdf
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What matters to me is, As humans, our innate ability and I think birth-right is to feel peace and contentment, and whatever that may mean for us in different personalities we may have, the different paths we may take - I want to be able to help others find that place and in my experience, that stability and safety of housing is just really a key component in helping someone to be able to find that place in their own lives. As difficult as it may be even with housing, but without it it's just so difficult I think. That's kind of what makes me tick, is I really want to support other peoples growth but also just that ability to be content with life and being peaceful. So housing really grabbed me, homeless services really grabbed me because it was a way to really connect with people and be able to support that evolution in others and in myself. That's kind of what brought me to this work. -Anthony Haro

I really feel, in Charlottesville, we have the right pieces in place, the right resources to actually get ahead of this issue of homelessness, in a meaningful way. It's difficult when you say, "ending homelessness", because i think it's hard for people to relate to what that means, but when we qualify it i think it's actually very very realistic. I know it's possible. Moving here about two years ago to work in homeless services, i was really excited about the prospect because it's really possible for places like Charlottesville. Bigger cities are having a huge issue with homelessness as you've probably seen with the news, but i think it's really possible in places like charlottesville, to really get ahead of the issue. And so that's exciting, we can totally do it. 

Anthony Haro: Housing is a human right, I believe. 
Jerry Miller: Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. right - safety and security. Having a roof over your head is paramount to you having success in quality of life.
Anthony Haro: The funny thing is that, unfortunately, there still is a pervading idea around homelessness, it's a stigma, that it's someone's fault because of the choices that they've made in their lives, and you know, outside of that issue it's just so hard to get other things going if you don't have a safe place to sleep at night, if you don't have a way to take a shower. And you know, we expect people to really make these sweeping changes in their lives when it's difficult to do that when you already have a place to stay, but if you don't, it's just stacked against you in a way that's just not tenable, i think, for most people. So that idea of people really needing to change or make changes to get out of homelessness, and then earn or deserve housing, is just a flawed way of thinking. Everyone deserves housing, regardless. And the research shows that actually when you do that, it's called "housing first" - treatment, recover, employment, all those things work so much better if someone has a place to stay at night. And they work a lot less well if you don't have a place to sleep at night. So. . . The research shows it's the right way to go too. 

I think some of the stigmas are: "homeless people are lazy"; "[they] don't want to get a job"; "they could just get a job and end their own homelessness". There's a huge stigma about substance use, about mental illness. Those are probably the biggest ones, right. Lack of interest in maybe finding work. Just, you know, "people just need to get clean". "Stop using drugs". Or "start taking medication". Those are probably the biggest ones that we see, and so the reality is something obviously more complicated, and i think the best way to explain it is: something that's really interesting I've found, doing this work, is that most people who experience homelessness, you'd never really even know. The data shows around 70% of people who fall into homelessness experience homelessness for less than about 2 weeks. They might stay in a shelter for a few nights but then with their own resources, with their own social networks they get out of it. They get back into housing. And that's great. We want to empower people to be able to do that as much as we can. So the interesting thing is that homelessness is a lot larger than anybody probably ever thinks about. And what people usually do think about when it comes to homelessness is what they see on the downtown mall, maybe on the corner near UVA - and that's largely what we consider to be chronic homelessness. These are folks who have disabling conditions and have been homeless for a long time. Long periods of homelessness. Sometimes ten or more years on the streets, and so because folks who are chronically homeless have these complicated health issues, and have such a long history of homelessness, a lot of times they don't use shelters. and so they're out in the public, they don't have a place to go during the day because they don't have a home, and so it's visible, and that's what people associate with homelessness as a whole, but really that's only a relatively small portion of the homeless population. And so that's why sometimes the stigmas get attached to the whole community, because it's the most visible part of the community. For people who are chronically homeless - mental illness and substance abuse are prevalent. They are. But again, that's just a subset of the homeless population. The chronically homeless folks do represent some of the most vulnerable people in our community though. And at TJACH, one of our focuses is on ending chronic homelessness because those folks are at the highest risk of dying on the streets. But those are some of the stigmas and that's kind of, i think, why those stigmas exist, is because it's the most visible part of homelessness. but most people, you'd never even know.

A lot of times, communities get caught up with wanting to address homelessness but they try to address those kind of stigmas. So, for instance, we see a community might say: "oh there's a lot for people homeless, panhandling on the downtown mall or wherever it may be, "let's get some job programs for them", right. Or "let's do more outreach and try to get mental health services for them". Those are all really important steps, I'm not saying they're not important, they are absolutely vital to the pictures, BUT they are an indirect way of getting to the issue. If someone's experiencing homelessness, that's a housing issue, and that's where we should as a community address the issue first. Not some of the symptoms of homelessness. So that's a common fallacy that we see a lot, and i think it perpetuates the stigma as well. Where if we were just to provide supportive housing upfront for folks on the streets, and then those wrap around services in housing - that's the most successful way it's been proven through data time and time again. It's not a mystery how to end homelessness. It's just sometimes a mystery of how to get the resources together 


 to actually provide those resources 


 to the scale that we need. But it is not a mystery how to end homelessness, and it's through housing first programs. Sometimes the stigmas make their way into what people think is the best way to address the problem, and it's not the full picture if you don't think about housing. The other side of it too is that there are far more people in housing who have substance use issues than who are not in housing. There are far more people in housing who have mental health issues than who are not in housing. And there are far more people in housing who are living in poverty, than who are not. So homelessness is not these things - these are not symptoms. Homelessness is a lack of housing.

About 70% of people who fall into homelessness over a year, spend less than about 2 weeks homeless. The other interesting thing too, is that almost the same percentage of folks (approximately 66%) of people who fall into homelessness use a homeless service resource, a shelter or something like that - that is their first time experiencing homelessness in our community. Now we can't verify if maybe they've fallen into homelessness elsewhere, but that's the first time that they've used one of our resources, and we know that because we keep data; data is super important to the work that we do. Which I think also goes against sometimes the perception of homelessness. "The same people (end up homeless), time and time again" - that's not true for the majority of folks who are homeless. And so, not to look at the visible part and think that that's homelessness overall - yes it's not. I think the other important hing to just realize is that everyone just needs a safe place to call home and so people panhandling - that's a tricky issue, it's complicated. We've done some research on it. We need to do more honestly. But the research that we've done so far kind of shows that about half of the people who are panhandling in our community are truly literally homeless, meaning like living outside in a tent or living in a shelter, but let me make it clear: no one who's panhandling in our community is doing well. They're panhandling because they're trying to meet basic needs. Many people who panhandle use the money to sleep in a hotel that night, and if they didn't have that money from panhandling they'd probably be outside. But about half of the people are literally homeless what we've found, in going out and talking to folks. So panhandling's a tricky issue, but again, let me be clear, there's no one doing well with panhandling. And i see that idea come up time and time again - that there's an organized ring of panhandlers that are pooling their money and making money somehow, a lot of money - and that's just not what we found true.

One thing we've not done a great job with at TJACH is being more public about our data about homeless services. Great students are working with us to actually start pushing to our website more and more statistics about homelessness, how we are doing as a community, number of folks that were able to move into housing that month, for instance. We want to be more public with this information. So that's coming - full transparency. Our plan is to be much more transparent.

November, 2019

TJACH is not a direct service provider. We exist to empower and support the direct service providers in the community - including The Haven, PACEM (which is a season shelter), Region Ten (mental health service provider), Families in Crises, SHE shelter, Salvation Army, On Our Own - so basically all the homeless service organizations that exist int he community, we work to try to empower them through grant funding and collaborate strategies that we implement. We manage a database system that all those partners use to keep track of homeless services in the community. And we do a lot of research, grant management performance tracking, etc. So we are not a direct service provider, but we do hold the system level data about homelessness.

Not knowing how to deal with that is very common and it makes sense. The best advice that i usually give to people is to follow your intuition on the matter. I'm not going to say you should give money. I'm not going to say you shouldn't give money. If you feel compelled to do, do so, but what i qualify it with is that the issue is greater than giving something in that moment. Just to know that really, that's not going to solve someone's situation, in that moment, but you just need to be honest with yourself, with your feelings. If you feel compelled to give money or food or whatever it may be, go for it. I'm not going to say you shouldn't do that. And if you do'nt feel compelled, don't feel bad about it either. I think you should follow what you feel is right. A lot of times what i suggest is that people ask, "hey, are you OK?", first of all, if they're not looking good. Ask them how they're doing. If someone is really not doing well, let's say it's super hot outside or super cold, and they need medical attention, that's something that you can do that's real. You can try to address that issue with them. If you feel safe doing so, and if you feel comfortable doing so. Another thing is just to say, "hey have you heard about a shelter?", "do you have a safe place to stay tonight?". You can ask someone do they know what to do if they need help. Arm yourself with some of that information. Really, I think, you should feel just fine doing what feels right to you. but in all cases, just be a human. be a kind human about it. 

I'm actually glad that people see this in our community because it exists. it's real. And if we don't see it collectively, then we forget about it, and we push it aside. And homelessness is one of those issues that does get pushed aside, literally, sometimes, through policing - people asking homeless people to move on or move out of public spaces, and we also do it mentally because we feel uncomfortable with that situation, and that's unhealthy i think for a community to continue to do that. we need to really address and come face to face. The fact that there are people in our community living in situations and it doesn't have to be like that - but the more and more we want to ignore, the more and more we feel empowered to ignore and push it away - i think that doesn't help the issue. See people, and be a kind human about it.

Get involved. Figure out a way to give back. What's the best way to be a part of the solution, and honestly? The best way is to give money to the issue. We need resources. We need financial resources to pay for housing services, which end homelessness. We need financial resources to pay case managers that provide the supportive services in housing. That's one of the most powerful ways that you as a community member can be a part of the solution - is doing that and volunteering at these organizations as well, is also fantastic and highly needed as well. But i don't want to beat around the issue: if you feel compelled, give money to these programs because it really helps.

Yes, it is. It can be is the best way to put it. And it's related to a lot of different issues in our community that perpetuate generational poverty. Racist policies, systemic racism - these are all things that contribute to the same people staying in this cycle, and there is certainly a racial element to homelessness. I don't have the exact statistics but I think Charlottesville may be is about 13% identified as black / African American. Number of folks who are in poverty locally is about 22% identified as black / African American. But in the homeless services system it's about 44%. That's an important issue that we need to address. 

We say we can end veteran homelessness, but what we mean by that is we don't believe that we can prevent everybody from falling into homelessness. Not in our current economic structure, that's just not a reality, yet. Hopefully it could be at some point in the future. But when someone does fall into homelessness, what we mean when we say ending, or reaching a functional end of homelessness, is having the support systems in place, and the housing stock in place to help people move back into housing within thirty days. And what that would do is kind of interesting - what that does is it makes chronic homelessness, or people remaining homeless over time, non existent. and so you wouldn't see what we see today in the same way, because people who fall into homelessness would be able to get back into housing quickly. And that ends that cycle. that's what's important. Sot hat's what we mean when we talk about ending homelessness - is that having a system in place to get people back into housing quickly. And so we have been a part of a program called BUILT FOR ZERO which is a nation wide initiative by Community Solutions: they help communities work through data issues, work through strategy, work through system-level changes to improve your ability to help people get back into housing and also prevent people from falling into homelessness. So they really help us int he work that we do. And they really believe in us locally in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties - that we can get to that functional end of veteran homelessness. And they've invested in us, and that's why we're going to be able to hire this housing navigator for homeless veterans. And that reason we've focused on that as one of the key pieces is that because we have so few veterans who are experiencing homelessness (it's far too many, as well: 15-18) but it's a number that we can get down (reduce to less than 2 is the goal), is because for veterans thankfully there are a lot of good resources for housing and support services in our community and nation wide through the V.A. When you look at the data nation-wide, it shows that if you invest in this issue with housing focused programming, you decrease veteran homelessness.

Permanent housing - It's the direct way to the goal, and it's also proven to be the most successful and so The Crossings is an example of that (at 4th and Preston). It is just an apartment complex; half of the units are reserved just for people who are chronically homeless, and the half the units are just affordable housing. So it's a great model because it not only provides general affordable housing for individuals - which by the way, is one of the greatest needs - but it also provides housing for folks who are on our streets for years and years, and we're right now engaged in research with UVA and with the jail and with fire and EMS to really kind of learn more about our local housing programs and how successful they were at mitigating use or over-use of the emergency department, or use of the jail. And we haven't finished that research but anecdotally, the crossings when it opened in 2012 - they had a team setup to try to reduce the number of frequent utilizers of the jail,and they had this all setup, and then the crossings opened, and they realized they weren't seeing the same folks coming into the jail anymore. and that's awesome. that's proof of performance. It's the way to solve homelessness - is through housing and supportive supportive services. It just can't be housing alone. What really makes these programs work is that at the crossings there's case mangers on site and that's crucial.

Protect your piece. You can't truly be of service if you are embodying a piece of yourself. So do what you need to do, to be in a good place, so that you can provide and you share that energy with people around you. And that's one of the, i think, most powerful ways that we can be of service to each other. Is being peaceful, content, ourselves, and you can't help but wear off that on people around you.

‘We can’t continue putting Band-Aids on the issue’: Addressing Charlottesville’s rising homeless population during the affordable housing crisis (March 2019)

The Haven serves as a shelter for the homeless population of Charlottesville, who may otherwise have nowhere else to turn to for assistance.

Being more than simply a physical space to congregate, The Haven also hosts the offices of Peoples and Congregations Engaged in Ministry — a shelter that utilizes local churches a place to sleep in colder months — and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless — a non-profit coalition of local organizations who work together to end homelessness in the region.
These services — along with laundry services, showers, mailing addresses and storage — exist to aid the homeless and fill gaps that may exist. The central focus of The Haven is to serve as a launchpad for guests’ transformation from homelessness to sustainable living.
The number of people in this metropolitan region who were served for homelessness rose from 283 to 440 between 2013 and 2018.
This rapid uptick is due to the rapid increase of the region’s affordable housing crisis in recent years. The region is in need of over 4,000 affordable units.
“I think that the housing needs in the community are more significant now, and that is contributing to the rise in the number of people who fall into homelessness,” Haro said.
The homeless population in Charlottesville is largely comprised of adults between 25 and 54.
“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 and there’s different needs across the whole spectrum.” 
Thirty-four percent of homeless adults in the Charlottesville area are women, and 25 percent of homeless adults in the area were victims of domestic violence at some point in their past. 
From Haro’s perspective, 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. 
“Housing solutions are the answer to homelessness,” Haro said. “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.”
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.
“That is the main thing in Charlottesville, is housing,” James said. “The cost of living is sky high, and low income housing’s very rare … Charlottesville’s not that big, so most of the people that’s homeless would be here [at The Haven].
From October through mid-April, guests at The Haven in need of shelter for the night are taken in by PACEM. A rotation of 80 local congregations and community groups provide respite for those without sufficient protection from inclement weather.

PACEM executive director Jayson Whitehead said the need for these services has been increasing in recent years. During operations, PACEM hosts an average of 42 men and 13 women. Whitehead, like the city’s other experts on the subject, said the high demand is most directly related to Charlottesville’s shortage of affordable housing units. 

(Next column)

In downtown Charlottesville, The Haven stands tall as an inviting sanctuary to all those who come across it. Outside the church building converted to a homeless shelter, a sign reads, “Everyone needs a place to start.”

The City has struggled to address the affordable housing crisis in recent years. 
A proposal for a $50 million bond to rectify the crisis was never directly addressed by City Council, and it is unclear why councilors chose not to publicly address it. Additionally, the key determinants of where high-density and affordable housing units can be developed in the City — is expected to take up to three years to complete.

Habitat, TJACH, the Charlottesville Redevelopment Housing Association and a number of other organizations in the area have recently taken action under the umbrella of the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition; a centralized housing hub for individuals and families who need housing assistance.
“[What] we are really pushing and focusing on is the development of what we call a centralized housing hub,” Kawachi said. “We’re trying to create a hub where folks can come, because that is one of the primary things we’ve heard from individuals who are having housing issues or are experiencing homelessness is that they have nowhere to go.”

The University has done little in recent years to help the City alleviate the problem — however, the Brandon Avenue on-Grounds housing complex is slated to open in August 2019, creating space for 500 students and shifting some of the demand away from off-Grounds. University President Jim Ryan’s community working group named affordable housing as their number two priority area behind jobs and wages in a report released last week, saying that University officials and administration “should partner with housing providers to help ensure there is safe, quality, affordable housing for all residents in the region.”

Grant Duffield, the executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, says a partnership between the City and the University could help streamline valuable resources to aid in the creation of more affordable units and the generation of a living wage.
...While local organizations are doing what their resources permit them to in order to care for and support the local homeless population, their leaders agree that affordable housing is the solution to Charlottesville’s dynamic homelessness problem, with both strong social and fiscal implications in balance.
“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.”
We can end poverty, but this is why we haven't | Teva Sienicki (December 2016)

We aim to help families attain self-sufficiency. 
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.
Studies tell us that kids in poverty fall behind early, and that by the time they're 4 years old, they're already a year and a half behind their middle class peers. And when they aren't reading proficiently by third grade, they're six times less likely to finish high school. It's almost impossible for them to catch up.
There are 16 million children living in poverty in the USA.

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.

Main ways we're getting things wrong:
1) we've relegated poverty work to the realm of the heart (to the Mother Theresa's, to the do-gooders, to the charities and the churches). And heart is absolutely essential, but my beef with leaving poverty there is that it's dismissive of the seriousness and the complexity of the problem we're trying to address. No matter how many cans of soup or warm beds we provide, we will not solve poverty without our brains as well. Too often we focus on the immediate human needs without addressing the issues that create them.

2) 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. 

There's a causal relationship between the county you live in as a kid and your future earnings as an adult. Our goal is to impact these communities in which they live. We are social creatures urged toward progress by our social networks. We go with the trend, we join along. #SheepleStatusIsReal

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!

(Next column)
Teva Sienicki has experienced first-hand the devastating, cyclical nature of inter-generational poverty. In this inspiring talk, she argues that in order to end poverty once and for all, we need to treat the root causes of the problem, not just the symptoms. Teva is passionate about building equity and closing the achievement gap for low-income kids. She transformed Growing Home, which began as a small shelter, into an anti-poverty organization that serves over 4,600 families annually. Winner of the Livingston Fellowship, her approach emphasizes innovation, analysis, and teamwork.

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 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. 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 set out as one small non-profit to end poverty in our community; let's commit our vast resources to creating a tipping-point as a nation so that we can stop treating the symptoms of poverty and end it once and for all.

Homelessness is a continuing challenge for many cities.
Our homeless population falls into three major categories:
1) those that are temporarily homeless (about 75%)
2) those that are episodically homeless (about 10%)
3) those that are chronically homeless (about 15%)
Chronic homelessness is defined as an unaccompanied adult who has been continuously homeless for a year or more or more than four times homeless in three years [365 days].
This small 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.

The US government began an initiative in 2003 inviting states and cities and counties to develop a plan to end chronic homelessness in a 10-year period. 
The state of Utah accepted this invitation, and I was asked to lead this effort. 
In 2005, we approved a 10-year plan, and 10 years later, in 2015, we reported a reduction in our chronic homeless population of 91 percent statewide.

When I began this process, I realized that I had a limited understanding of homelessness and the factors that impacted it, and that I needed a fairly major change in my belief, in my thinking, because I had been raised with the theory of rugged individualism and "pull yourself up by the bootstraps." 
That philosophy came from being raised on our family's cattle ranch in the western desert of Utah. On the ranch, you learned that nothing takes priority over caring for the cattle, something always needs fixing and most importantly, hard work makes the world right. It was through that lens that I would see homeless people.
When I was a teenager, our family would go into Salt Lake City, and I would see these homeless people -- "hobos" we called them then -- sitting around on the street, and I would think, "You lazy bums, get a job. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps."

I had the opportunity to be loaned out to the state's largest homeless shelter to assist them in developing and improving their financial and management capabilities. While there, I became aware of a new approach to dealing with homeless individuals and drug addicts. It was called the harm reduction model, and it consisted of passing out clean needles and condoms. And I thought, "Now that is one stupid idea." (Laughter) "That's just going to encourage them to continue that behavior. Just tell them to stop." Several years later, I read some of the early 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness promoted by the federal government. As I read through those plans, and I thought, "Pfft! This is unrealistic. You can't end homelessness. There's too many personal choices and factors beyond our control."

My perspective changed, however, when I attended a conference in 2003, where I learned the reason behind the 10-year plan.
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 to use them -- by 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 model. And despite my initial low expectations about hearing about this model, they were having an astonishing success rate: 85 percent 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.

So as I flew home from this conference, sitting in the plane looking out the window, I realized that my understanding and perspective about homelessness was shifting.

This very strong feeling and thought came to me that if there's any state in the union that could end chronic homelessness, it was the state of Utah, because there's an underlying feeling and desire and willingness to collaborate to serve our neighbors, including those who are homeless. A new vision was becoming clear to me how this could be done.

Now, those of us that attended the conference said, "Yeah, these models will work in Utah." But when we got back home, there were many who said, "No, those aren't going to work. They won't succeed here." But there was, however, an affordable housing organization who was willing to build our first 100 units. But they had concerns about having 100 chronically homeless people in one location. To address that concern, we decided to create a pilot to test that idea while we built the first 100 units. We would use existing units scattered throughout Salt Lake City.

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Lloyd Pendleton wants to eliminate chronic homelessness. (November 2017)

What do you think would happen if you invited an individual with mental health issues who had been homeless for many years to move directly from the street into housing? Loyd Pendleton shares how he went from skeptic to believer in the Housing First approach to homelessness -- providing the displaced with short-term assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions -- and how it led to a 91 percent reduction in chronic homelessness over a ten-year period in Utah.

Then we debated: Should we select fairly high-functioning homeless persons or the most challenging ones we could find? And this is where my background on the ranch came into play.

Back then, my mother cooked our meals and heated the water for our weekly bath on a wood-burning and coal-burning stove. And after chopping wood for that stove all those years, I'd learned to chop the big end of the log first, when I had the most energy.

We decided to use the "big end of the log first" approach and selected 17 of the most challenging, difficult, chronically homeless people we could find, because we knew we would learn the most from them. 
Twenty-two months later, all 17 were still housed, including Keta, who today, 11 years later, is sleeping in her own bed and is sober.

At the end of this pilot, one of the young case managers said, "We used to debate up at our university classes which theory of case management was the most effective. Now our theory of case management is: anything necessary to keep them housed."
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.

Now, who are homeless people? Many people just want them to go away, to disappear, not disrupt our lives.
Through this 10-year, 11-year process, I gained many insights of why people become homeless. One of those insights came to me a few years ago when I was visiting with our medical outreach team. 
These are our front-line workers that go out and visit the street homeless and the prostitutes to check on their medical health.
One of the team members mentioned that eight of the prostitutes had given birth to 31 children that had become wards of the state. They also shared that some of the pimps were their husbands, and worse yet, their parents.
These prostitutes, in their late teens, 20s, early 30s, were expected to earn enough money a day to support a hundred-dollar-a-day heroin addiction, their living expenses and their pimp.
And with unprotected sex, they were paid more, and predictably, this would lead to a pregnancy. Children born under these circumstances many times end up becoming homeless.
And it's not helpful to look at those born under those circumstances, or a parent that makes their child a drug addict at age seven, or a generation of babies born through drug addiction, and not feel some despair. 
For me, I believe every person is of value, no matter who you are. And it's not helpful to look at somebody with this start in life and blame them for where they are.

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.

The pilot we did with our 17 taught us many lessons. When people have been living on the street for many years, moving back into housing requires lots of things to learn.
And Donald taught us some of these transition lessons. His case manager asked him why he had not turned up the heat in his cold apartment. Donald said, "How do you do that?" He was shown how to use a thermostat. 
The case manager also observed that he was heating the beans in the can on the stove, like he had done over the campfires for many years. He was shown how to use pots and pans.
We also learned that he had a sister that he had not seen in 25 years, who thought he was dead. She was happy to learn otherwise, and they were soon reconnected.
Hundreds of people like Keta and Donald are now housed and reconnecting with their families. Also, many of our communities are incurring fewer emergency services costs.

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 | Amanda Ridgway | TEDxComoxValley (June 2015)

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

Homelessness is not new.
We are in a thirty-year period of homelessness that began in the 1980s. The previous period of homelessness was during the Great Depression.
Many people who are homeless are actually hidden -- staying on couches, staying with friends, staying in cars, and places that are not fit for human habitation. 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.

Wealth inequality in Canada - 70% is owned by the top 20% of population. The richest 86 families own more than the bottom 11 million Canadians. 
The federal government in the 1990's withdrew their investment for affordable housing. So 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.

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. 
Increasingly, anyone can become vulnerable to losing their housing.

Homelessness is not a choice.
A rare individual may choose not to be a part of our social structures or not choose to be a part of the loops in place by our politicians, but they're not choosing homelessness.
Public perception is that we have safety nets to help our most vulnerable citizens - but unfortunately, if you do need assistance, and if you do not have a permanent address, you're likely to experience barriers.

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. We're rethinking how we relate to our environment, our material goods, and how we relate to each other. We've come out of the illusion of superiority, out of the spell of consumerism; we are reacquainting ourselves with our humanity and inter-connectedness with our natural world, and thus balance in our lives. 

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This talk translates our society’s increasingly global conscience to understanding the challenges of homelessness and realizing the innovative community problem solving making a difference in communities across the nation.  Amanda sees our acceptance of homelessness as a pathology of our disconnection with ourselves, each other and our planet.  Amanda presents a vision of community where everyone is at home and invites our participation in tangible actions we all can take to end homelessness. 

A consultant and entrepreneur, Amanda Ridgway, Ignite Consultancy, facilitates redesigning the necessary holistic systems that support healthy communities.  She brings international experience strategizing community development to the challenges of affordable housing and homelessness. Presently she is engaging the Port Alberni community working with non-profits, municipalities and health services in completing an evidence-based homelessness prevention plan.  Previously she worked in the Comox Valley to devise a model for more effective service provision.  With a unique blend of psychology, performance coaching and mindfulness of the spirit, Amanda reframes real community challenges in a way that invigorates citizens to reconnect with their best selves and discover creative solutions.  

People in communities across Canada are taking advantage of our more conscious viewpoints to go beyond limits and our previous beliefs (to thus end homelessness!) - they let go of judgments and the burden of past mistakes and learned helplessness. We are all opening ourselves to questions that shift our perception, change our minds, and therefore our actions. And it's from this place that we can answer that question: what is the best thing that I/we can do to help?

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. 

Rethinking affordable housing | Adam Walls | TEDxGrantPark  (August 2016)

Why does the "hood" exist?
How can we be qualified to come up with strategies to fight a problem when we don't understand the underlying causes of it? Is it OK for us to be ignorant to the causes of the problem? Are we willing to accept easy explanations - that the people of these communities, are lazy, foolish, or perhaps created the problems themselves.


THE GREAT MIGRATION: 6 million blacks moved from the south to the rest of the country to escape Jim Crow segregation. 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.

The dilapidated communities, the housing stock being in dis-repair, and combined with the economic realities -- created a real need for affordable housing in these communities.

"Affordable housing" is defined as affordable if you're not paying more than 30% of your income in rent. In Chicago, there are 300k households making less than $30,000 a year. Clearly, we have a problem with a lot of rent-burdened families in the city of Chicago.

Looking at the history (the maps; the policies), combined with the economic realities -- what I concluded was that these communities are suffering from dis-investment (and 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!)
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I quit my job to put slum-lords out of business. If we accomplish our goal to create the highest quality housing experience in the country regardless of zip code, the market's going to do it for me. We were met by resistance from investments consistently saying "you seem like you have a lot of passion and you're smart, and this idea seems interesting - but man those neighborhoods are crazy!. why don't you go ahead and get it started, call me when it's working". 

The city of Chicago has a residential tenant ordinance to protect tenants from slum-lords -- allowing for a tenant to sue a landlord. 

The barriers to entry are almost endless to providing affordable housing to under-resourced communities. And what that results in is smart people staying away from the business. It's taken 5 long years to get a little tiny piece of what feels like some bit of success. We have 26 buildings, 700 apartment units, all of which are 100% affordable. We employ 25 full time people and independent contractors and attorneys. But the point is not to promote one particular idea or company - the point is that I feel like other entrepreneurs would join me in taking a look at perhaps large-scale social challenges. Understand the underlying cause for those challenges, and not be afraid to ask "why is it this way", and ask more importantly, "does it have to stay this way" ... 
Innovative housing for the urban poor | Rhea Silva | TEDxGSMC 
(July 2017)

Affordable housing is a challenge globally faced today, with about 235 million households worldwide suffering with housing poverty. Watch as she ends up disapproving the widely held perception that social businesses have to choose between profitability and purpose. #SocialEnterprise

Coming from a family immersed in real estate, Rhea Silva has seen land, finance and a lot more. But her vision is bigger, and by starting Chototel, she took her first steps in social enterprise. Chototel provides affordable housing for low-income families, and is making small steps in reducing homelessness, with expansions into the Indian market. She maybe young, but her ideas have surely taken flight, and have impressed many.