October 2, 2010

Hey dude, are you Tri-Morbid?

Tri-Morbid. How aweful sounding. That's the new description for a homeless person who has a lot of issues. If you've been reading the Union Tribune lately you've seen the controversy. Here are some random thoughts in response to a recent story about the survey that was conducted which classified 118 homeless people tri-morbid.

The impacts of homelessness on the community of San Diego and its people can be defeated, but these impacts are gaining momentum and are stronger now than ever. Not because of a shortage of money, or people that care, or because you don’t have enough shelter beds or feeding programs. And certainly not because you’ve performed or not performed the best surveys ever….The impacts of homelessness on the great city of San Diego are crushing you all because you continue to use a battle plan that simply CAN NOT win. It’s a battle plan designed at its core to FAIL. It’s a battle plan based on serving instead of solving, on managing impacts instead of addressing the causes of those impacts.

In a simple nutshell (very simple) you are getting your collective asses handed to you because you are deploying massive amounts of community capital using the WRONG intervention and engagement strategy directed at the WRONG subgroup of homeless. The intervention and engagement strategy for a homeless mentally ill person is entirely different than the intervention and engagement strategy for an active addict which is completely different than the plan for someone who lost their home and job due to the recession.

There are communities across the nation that are aligning their resources, money, people and leadership around winnable battle plans. Before San Diego can solve its homeless problem you will have to change attitudes. There are two camps: the help the homeless camp and the don’t help the homeless camp. I would recommend that you start working on developing a third camp. It’s the camp where the other two camps can join in and work together towards one unified goal: defeat the impacts of homelessness. Solve it for the homeless AND solve it for the community. Stop doing one at the expense of the other.

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