I am not offering a “silver bullet” toward “ending homelessness”. I am instead making suggestions toward a long-term solution about homelessness. Many of these directions cannot be completed in a year or two, but neither can solving homelessness.
The big answer to solving the homeless problem is giving the homeless enough space to create their own solutions. The homeless, for the most part, are good citizens, wanting to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors. However, their hands are tied to determining solutions for themselves. They are prevented by excessive chronic stress, harmful public policy that criminalizes normal behavior, and the inability for their leaders to sit at the table and offer their solutions. The homeless can do much to improve their own situations, if they would be given the opportunity to.
Real solutions for the homeless will not occur until real homeless people are involved in the solutions. It has been proven in working with communities of poverty throughout the world that the best solutions are those in which the community of poverty determines themselves and is deeply involved in setting up. Public policy has been given from the top down to the homeless. If we are going to create lasting successful solutions, the homeless must be deeply involved. Here are some ideas toward that long term solution:
1. Survey homeless populations in different parts of the county, asking what they think the short term and long term solutions to homelessness, and to their personal situation might be. Kristine Smock is the best person to do this task, having already successfully done a number of PIT surveys.
2. Encourage local homeless communities to have their own neighborhood associations. These associations would be official, would vote for leaders and these leaders could officially represent the homeless to their city, county and other neighborhood associations.
3. Homeless leaders should be given a strong voice at the public policy meetings about the homeless. They would not just be quiet members, but connected to their communities and have a full voice of what would and wouldn’t work for their communities.
4. Homeless leaders should be made continuing partners, evaluators and workers in solutions for homeless communities.