Monday, October 12, 2015

Why Can't Cities Find a Solution to Homelessness? Effective Community Development

Throughout the world, communities, expatriate organizations and nations have been working at community development of their poorest communities.  Over the years, a certain set of principles have been established which have proven to be effective in overcoming poverty in many contexts, both in the third world and in developed nations.

Today, many American cities have thousands of people living in third world poverty, including but not exclusive to the homeless.  Most of these people in deep poverty belong to communities of the poor, they are not just individuals.  The American approach to poverty treats poor people as individual or family units instead of larger communities.  As such, they do not take in the most effective approaches of eradicating poverty, developed throughout the world.  Here are some of the principles shown to work to eradicate poverty: 

1.  Although management from governing authority is essential, the solutions and direct leadership of the programs should be directed from the local poverty community.  There must be a partnership between the government and the poverty community. 

2. Funding should not be a one-time investment in a community, but an ongoing negotiated long term plan.

3. Success of any program must be determined by the success of goals, beginning with small ones and developing, over time, larger ones. Evaluation of any program should be continuous, both from within the program and from objective outside evaluators. 

4. Governance should provide training for partners to keep up successful programs. 

5. There should be continuous feedback between governance and community partners, developing a more nuanced program to the needs of the community.

These principles have not been at work among community development of the homeless.  Generally, the American approach has been to separate the homeless from their community, to create personal development apart from peers.  Success is declared because of numbers of individuals moved through the program instead of the development of a whole community.  If a community is developed as a whole, there is a much higher likelihood that homelessness would be reduced or, over time, even eliminated.

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