Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ending Homelessness, Final Stage: Getting Housing

After the homeless are accepted by the community and begins to accept the community around them, the final stage to ending homelessness is getting people homes. However, this is more complicated and more individual than any of the other stages.

Why is housing the final stage? Because if we don't meet the stage of meeting survival needs, the homeless don't have the time to take care of their housing properly. And if there is no community involvement there is no support to keep them in housing. And if the homeless aren't educated and trained, then they will not stay in housing. If we just give the homeless an apartment, most of them will lose it unless there is adequate foundation.

And even at this final stage, there is still work to do before housing is obtained...

An experiences social worker needs to sit down with every homeless person to determine a program to get them inside, permanently. An interview will need to be done, discussing the homeless persons’ struggles, needs, employment history, family, housing history, health and more. After the interview, the social worker might make an overall recommendation for a track that the homeless person might go in. One track might be employment, another mental health, another rehabilitation and another social security. Then the social worker and the homeless person can determine what specific programs the homeless person might need in order to reach the goal of escaping poverty. The overall plan might include many steps, including obtaining ID, support groups, a mental health evaluation, addiction assistance, volunteer work, education, employment assistance and a housing recommendation.

There are many different kinds of addiction helps out there, and every person has different kinds of needs that the rehabilitation could assist. For many people, especially serious alcoholics and hard drug users the first step is a detoxification program—this assists a person with a medical detox so they don’t die in the midst of kicking their addiction. After this, there are many options for those struggling with mental addiction. There are work rehabs that offer a combination of full time work and twelve step programs (Salvation Army’s ARC). There are religious programs that work on relationship and religious education (Victory Outreach). There are outpatient rehab support that offer the most flexibility (Many hospitals). There are other kinds of in-patient facilities that provide basic structure and some freedom (DePaul Center) There are also low-key communities offering support and help with life skills. And, of course, there are 12 step programs and other kinds of support groups, religious and secular. For those seeking rehabilitation, the right program should be sought. This means that familiarity with all the programs in a broad area should be known and discussed with the person seeking rehabilitation.

Like rehabilitation, housing is not something that can be determined on a cookie-cutter basis. For some, an apartment is too complicated or too enclosed. There are a variety of different kinds of housing that might work for someone who has lived on the streets for years. Some might want to live in a drug and alcohol free community camp (Dignity Village). Others might want to live in a “halfway” house, which offers some of the flexibility of homeless culture, but some of the security of the middle class (Anawim Christian Community). Others might need to live in homes that focus on living in a clean and sober environment (Oxford Houses). Others might prefer to live with family, if that is offered. Others might want to live in religious communities (The Simple Way). Again, the many options should be available and sought.

Post-homeless counseling-- One of the greatest crisis periods for a homeless person is when they are able to obtain housing. Often, when the homeless get housing, the recently homeless develop depression, guilt, illness and recurring addiction issues. An additional support group helping the post-homeless to deal wit their issues is essential if the homeless are to remain housed. A post-homeless plan should also be laid out and support should be given to achieve it.)

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