November 30, 2009

Does the Regional Shelter System Solve Homelessness?

As a long time advocate for the homeless and for programs that solve homelessness I have to speak up when I see things that I feel treat homelessness like a disease that has to be contained. It's not easy because I like many of the folks that run and serve in these programs and many of the entities that provide funding to them also provide funding to Solutions for Change. Obviously the views expressed here have been the subject of countless conversations with people in and around this field for years. But like any conversation around issues of critical importance, if you are on the minority side (which I am within my peers here) you run the risk of being labeled a whack job. All I can say is that I have had literally tens of thousands of interactions with homeless people over almost two decades. They need shelter but they don’t really want to be contained in winter shelters. They need food but they don’t want to be standing in a feeding line. They need compassion but they don’t need it as a transaction for 4 months in the winter. The homeless need access to permanent solutions, not more access to temporary solutions that keep them churning in a system which specializes in managing the symptoms of their homelessness.

The Regional Shelter System opens today for the winter months. You can read about it here.

There has been a new push in some communities across the country to move away from the traditional emergency shelter systems and into hybrid programs capable of addressing and solving the causative factors of homelessness. If we invested more of our brains, brawn, money and political capital into developing more access to permanent solutions, we wouldn’t need to fund a half million dollars in emergency shelters every winter. Yet we continue to feel good about throwing Band-Aids out there (temporary solutions) thinking this is the best we can do. That thinking is the wrong thinking and it is what keeps us locked into and stuck in mediocrity.

The evidence has consistently shown that shelters, feeding programs and these "case management" services (for the vast majority of the homeless) do nothing more than MANAGE the symptoms of homelessness by containing it. It cost a lot of money to continually manage the homeless problem year after year, versus the cost of investing in strategic approaches to solve it.
This is a noble help the homeless... but it would be a far nobler and more humane thing to stop this containment “merry go round” and activate the access to permanent solutions required to defeat homelessness, not for 4 winter months, but for good. With the right battle plan, homelessness is a solvable condition, yet the emergency winter shelter approach continues to treat the homeless like they are something that has to be controlled and a disease. It’s the equivalent of Tri City Hospital putting patients on beds with morphine drips making the patient comfortable instead of delivering a comprehensive treatment plan to address and solve the underlying condition. People die or churn around in the system forever. This is how we treat the homeless by continually placing them in emergency shelters year after year. Emergency shelters by their very nature are designed to contain, not solve problems. We call it compassion, but is this approach really compassionate?

It’s far time that this and other communities get behind local initiatives designed to solve homelessness using the innovative and proven alternative solution driven models that are springing up. They are bold, exciting, entrepreneurial driven solutions focused on outcomes instead of inputs, on number of people who get and stay off the streets, versus the number of bed nights provided or number of meals given out.

Many will read this article and feel good but the ugly truth of it is these programs keep people locked into a state of homelessness and perpetutate the churning effect that has led to homelessness becoming an epic social problem. We can’t solve the lowest rung of poverty (homelessness) with emergency winter shelter beds. We can only contain it for a few winter months, buy ourselves some guilt free nights...only to repeat it next winter. The people that run these things know this…they know that they are only containing it. And the last point is this…if the traditional shelter systems worked to end homelessness, why is there more homeless today than ever before? Pre recession, post recession, doesn’t matter…the impacts of homelessness have been and are greater than ever. It’s because these emergency shelters and most of the traditional homeless programs use old strategies that simply are designed to contain it, not solve it.

November 27, 2009

Food Drive on December 2nd!

HERE IS A GREAT EVENT THAT IS HAPPENING ON DECEMBER 2nd from 5:00 - 7:00pm - Bring any non-perishable food items for Solutions for Change!:

Payless Shoesource is Part of the Change!

We hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Everyone at the Solutions University feels blessed for all those that continue to lend a hand and who are being part of the change! This week we received another partner in our journey to solve family homelessness... Payless Shoesource! You see them on corners of major shopping malls and now the Solutions University residents will be able to go do some Holiday shopping thanks to them!

We were one of the 700 organizations that were selected for this gift out of 2,800 organizations who applied! This means that 125 pairs of brand new shoes will be coming our way in the next month.

This goes to show what a large corporation such as Payless Shoesource can do in order to Be Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!

November 20, 2009

10 Year Anniversary...

This past week was something special for everyone at Solutions. November 15th marked 10 years of solving family homelessness here in North County San Diego!

Please read this fantastic article that we received today!

We'll keep this post nice and sweet... the article says it all!

Thank you to everyone for your continued support, dedication and inspiration.

Be Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!

Happy Holidays Folks...

November 19, 2009

Some Serious Facts on Homelessness

We all know homelessness is a massive problem that our country is facing and due to the economy this is an issue that is constantly increasing. How big is this problem? Here are a few facts on homelessness... pretty scary.

Families with children are by most accounts among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In the United States an estimated 1.35 million from 600 thousand families will experience homelessness today, while 3.8 million more will live in “precarious housing situations.” Put it in another way, of every 200 children in America, 3 will be homeless today and more than double that number will be at risk for homelessness.

Help our Solutions University continue to solve this huge issue! Be Part of the Change!

To see more facts on homelessness, click here.

Toy Drive this Saturday!

Here is a reminder for the Toy Drive this Saturday! Thank you for all your support!

November 16, 2009

Walking Raised Over $1,200.00

Per our last blog post, we participated in an amazing event this past Saturday at Rancho Buena Vista High School. Our teams' raised over $1,200.00 for the impoverished children of Chennai, India. It was incredible to participate in this event with everyone who was walking... nothing less than inspirational! Thank you to everyone!

Here is a mention we also received in the North County Times:

"Yet the giving continues. Nearly every day another story crosses my desk about people helping people. When the North County Philanthropy Council gathered Thursday to honor volunteers from 43 agencies, it became clear that when the going gets tough, the kindhearted keep going, and giving.
Even some in great need themselves are helping out. About 40 members of homeless families being helped by Solutions for Change in Vista were expected to be among those participating in a walkathon Saturday at Rancho Buena Vista High School to raise money for a school in India.

"It just always amazes me to witness their heart and just the goodness for others that despite their own woes, these kids raise their hands and really want to get out there and walk," said Chris Megison, executive director of Solutions for Change. "They're fired up to be part of something that will have impact on kids half a world away."

To ready the full article, click here.

November 12, 2009


“North County Homeless Kids Walk for the ‘Slum Dogs’ of India”

SAN DIEGO, November 12, 2009 - One would think an organization who is solving family homelessness for North County, San Diego would have enough to worry about; daily to-do lists, organization meetings, community outreach and of course solving family homelessness for 60 families in their Solutions University. However, when it comes to North County Solutions for Change, it is the exact opposite. With their 10-year slogan, “Not just a name, but a promise” Solutions for Change will be keeping this promise by participating in an extra-ordinary event held at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, California.

The ONEKind Foundation will be holding a walkathon at Rancho Buena Vista High School on November 14th at 9:30am. Funds raised through this event will support Zamar Academy in Chennai, India. The Zamar Academy’s purpose is “to offer quality education free of cost to children from below poverty line families, who do not have the means, morale and methods and to integrate them into the main stream of the nation, as responsible citizens.”

What makes this event so special is because of who is participating in this event; the families of the Solutions University. Parents and their children from Solutions for Change will be forming two teams to compete against each other in order see who can raise the most amount of money for this great cause. Furthermore, Solutions for Change Founders, Chris and Tammy Megison will be forming their own team and funds they raise will be evenly distributed to the two teams from the Solutions University, “Whether they are standing in front of supermarkets to raise funds for Katrina victims or flipping burgers for deploying Marines at a Family Day picnic aboard Camp Pendleton, our families and kids continually amaze me with their heart and drive to be a force for goodness,” explains Mr. Megison. The winning team from Solutions University will be treated to a day at Legoland sponsored by the Solutions University.

By involving the families of the Solutions University in an event like this is the staple of what North County Solutions for Change has created. One of their core values is to equip the families they are helping to become givers themselves. By empowering these families who once were homeless, instills the values and philosophy that North County Solutions for Change has been building for the past ten years.

Not only does Solutions for Change ask you To Be Part of the Change – for today, tomorrow and forever, but they engage those that you are changing to be a change for others who are in the same or if not worse, position than they are.

To join the Solutions for Change team and be a walker for change, please click here.


For More Information:

North County Solutions for Change:

ONEKind Foundation:

Zamar Academy:

November 11, 2009

Another Toy Drive for our Children! continues to Be Part of The Change! They are holding another fantastic toy drive for the children of the Solutions University. This time it will be held at the PCH Bar and Grill. Make sure to get there early so you can enjoy everything that PCH Bar and Grill has to offer and of course to socialize with other people just like yourself who are part of the change!

Your generous donations are greatly appreciated and we cannot begin to explain as to the impact they make during this time of year!

November 10, 2009

Volunteer to change the lives our Children!

The Solutions University presents our local San Diego community with a great opportunity to join our cause to solve family homelessness... permanently. One of the many programs held daily here at the Solutions Center in Vista, CA is our Homework Club. This gives the children in the Solutions University a chance to gain advice, direction and be tutored in their various school subjects. Many of the children's parents are working in the afternoon, so we hold this Homework Club, Monday - Thursday from 4:00 -5:00pm. As long as you have the skills to help a k - 5th grader with their homework, you will be a perfect fit. This is just another great way that the Solutions University enables you to Be Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!

Put your mark on the future of our San Diego community and sign up today by clicking here.

Thank you for your time and efforts!

November 2, 2009

A Great Event Raises Funds for Solutions!

'The Gondoliers', a lively Gilbert and Sullivan favorite "easy listening" operetta, was presented Sunday, October 18th at 4 p.m. in San Marcos. Students of Oceanside dance instructor Krista Hale performed along side North County Sunday Soiree opera and musical theater singers Debbie Nicastro, Max Chodos, Kim Neblett, Tracey Pear, Therese Holladay, John-Scot Moir, Brian Gemmell, international opera singer Cynthia Leigh, sang the principal roles accompanied by chamber orchestra and chorus conducted by Jeff Lehman at Meadowlark Church, 1918 Redwing St., San Marcos. A special thank you to Therese Hollady and John Danke of North County Sunday Soiree for putting this event together, raising over $1,200.00 for the families of North County Solutions for Change.

Thank you for Being Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!