5 Reasons Why the Current Solutions to Homelessness Do Not Work

1. A system of reactions instead of a system that’s proactive

Bandaid

The Quick-Fix Solution

The system that is currently enforced is one complete with temporary solutions to clean up after the storm, instead of preparing for it. Homelessness has been an issue plaguing this city for centuries and yet, the general solution is still to put a band aid on a broken arm.  It’s time for the methods currently used to be reevaluated. Instead of installing programs that tell citizens to come for help once they have been put on the street, let’s create ways to help the citizens when homelessness is seeable and unfortunate future. No longer should it be customary to wait until a court eviction notice is in place or when the writ of possession is in effect, we should evolve to helping people when they make it clear that they are having struggles before the leak turns into a full dam, break.

2. Shelter, shelter everywhere, but never a place to sleep.

Homeless in line for shelter

The never-ending line

The bureaucracy-controlled sheltering system in Philadelphia is inadequate, antiquated, and poorly-administered. How more obvious can it be that sheltering is not the route to take, than when dozens of people call each day to be turned down for lack of beds. Just that mere fact alone should be a rude awakening that something isn’t working. The city has underestimated this crisis and seems to be under the impression that homelessness is a rare occurrence when the reality is that homelessness is a horrid normalcy.  It has become common place that families enter into shelters so that they may have a future with housing after months and years of residing there. So, one has to think, where are they to go when the shelters say no? Sheltering, in its pure form, should be the extremely temporary solution until housing is immediately sought after and secured. But the reality is that permanent housing is not the goal. Sheltering without real ambitions for housing folks…until they are just forgotten or ignored is the current motto. And what is more confusing is the lack of space when more and more shelters seem to be announcing new building openings.

3. You have cancer. Here, two Tylenols should do it.

The Cure

The Cure

The Philadelphia shelter system that has continually operated under the mindset of applying temporary solutions to the symptoms of homelessness. Instead, they should be coming to conclusions for ending it altogether. Just as shocked as you would be to hear your physician tell you that he will treat a serious disease with Tylenol, is how shocked we are to see the city treat the symptoms of homelessness instead of going for the source and cause.  Just like the human body, a city is only as strong as its weakest link. And the same way that you would try to cure the disease instead of just masking the pain that is a side effect, it should be the cities notion to cure what is ailing so many of its citizens, and forcing them into an inadequate life. Studies have shown that home is the center stronghold binding affects all aspects of life. Children prosper better in school and health when residing in permanent stable homes, and of course, adults perform better at their daily tasks with the same. So many of the issues that are present, and negatively affecting our communities (i.e. violence, crime rate, etc.) can be linked to the poverty level, it’s no surprise that one with the largest  links to the poverty level is homelessness. While we should move to immediately house families, we have to dig deeper and cure the underlying causes, because if not we will always be dealing on the same cycle of the symptoms of homelessness (sheltering, housing, etc.), instead of ENDING homelessness altogether.

4.  The homeless, the profit margin, and the nonexistent method to end.

The Homeless Industrial Complex

What? As unfathomable as it may seem there is a profit margin to homelessness. Why in the world would shelters work to end homelessness when ending would mean they lose their sources of income?  Each year shelters receive federal funding, grants, and other numerous sources of income based on the amount of people that they have housed and are currently housing.  The truth shows when the data is viewed. It costs $34,000 annually to house a family in a shelter, whereas with the Housing First method it costs just $4,500 one time. While our governments should realize this and move forward with what would be better for the citizens as well as the government itself, as long as it is profitable for shelters to exist, and as long as the funding keeps coming, when will it end? It seems that there is no urgency to end, only the continuation of ineffective temporary solutions.

5. Looking at the face of homelessness and replacing it with our own.

Us NOT Them

A wide misconception has aroused that there is a face to homelessness. There is the thought that those who are faced with homelessness have chosen this lifestyle for themselves.  Statistical reports, like the AHAR (Annual Homeless Assessment Report) categorize most homeless to be a male minority with some sort of mental or physical disability. But this is not the face that should be put to homelessness. Homelessness has no disposition on which it chooses those affected and does not differentiate between gender, race, or physical and mental And in fact, the same AHAR report notes that most that are homeless had a stable home for at least a year or more before becoming homeless and there was a tragic event that could be linked to the fall.  Homelessness remains comfortable as long as those not facing it can resolve that it only affects men who chose this for themselves. Seeing the face of homeless as men is more tolerable than the face of children or families.  There needs to be an understanding and cooperative to handicaps. These reports note, but fail to emphasize the fact that there is growing number of homeless families. There is a notable increase of homeless families in rural and suburban areas, not just the urban cities and children are accounting for alarming numbers of those homeless. help no longer treat homelessness but to end it.  We each have to no longer place one certain group as the face of homelessness but put our own face in its place. Mentally place the faces of our children as the face of homelessness, and then let’s decide if this is something that we can continue to tolerate. Those who are homeless are not helpless, just people who need a helping hand. And it will take a diminishment of the stereotypes and the initiation of a cooperative to work together and End homelessness.

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