December 19, 2012

The Homeless Merry-Go-Round Named Denial

Matthew T. Hall of the Union Tribune just did an editorial: Ending Homelessness in San Diego? Nice Try. After reading it I couldn't help but do a fist pump. Here we have someone examining the obvious and bringing up some very valid points that many homeless advocates don't want to hear (as his interviews with them point out). Yet dozens of experts and advocates who told us that we would "end homelessness" in ten years, eight years ago, are the same ones who are saying we will end it now in 2015 or 2020. What's changed? Anything? It's hard to tell because this merry-go-round spins with its own force making it difficult to get clarity.

Matthew grabs onto the merry-go-round handles and causes it to slow down some, giving us a glimpse of what's on it and what's causing it to spin. Here is what we see:

  • A massive system of enabling. A system of "compassion transactions",  underwriting the destruction of human beings, and eroding the social and economic fabric of our community, all in the name of mercy.
  • No one wanting to admit that this is what we've done because admitting it would mean a very painful process of self examination and accountability
  • Expert "symptom management" operators terrified at the prospect of being put out of business
  • The homeless themselves scoffing at the idea that we will end it
  • Upon closer scrutiny, the merry-go-round's energy source is its investors, its funders, both government and private. And the thing is that it can't spin without money and so we collectively, oddly enough, are the ones spinning it because its our tax dollars.
  • Enabling breeds contempt and creates monsters which must then be slayed or contained which now means...
  • ...we need more money, more programs, more people to contain the problems, which means

It's an endless churn.

The answer? STOP the merry-go-round. Abandon the old play book. Redesign using a new play book. Now imagine walking into a Padre game without having to step over and around 85 human beings.

It can happen. Homelessness can be solved (much different than the word end) by developing more, better and faster access to solutions that take a human being AND a community deeper.

This short video provides one example of why, what and how we can do this:

Changing Attitudes. Rebuilding Lives.

May 26, 2012

The Imperative - I'm Going In!

This Memorial Day weekend reminds me of a simple Imperative that those in the military live by. When it comes to family homelessness we could learn something from this principal.

The harsh impacts of homelessness will hurt hundreds of thousands of innocent children this year. How many thousands of those kids’ futures will be permanently damaged? 20 years from now what will the real cost of this be? Despite billions of dollars thrown at this problem every year, hundreds of plans implemented, thousands of organizations and countless community heroes helping the homeless, communities around the US find themselves mired in the impacts and constantly making moves trying to manage those impacts.

Despite what feels like standing up to the aggressive nature of homelessness, the results speak for themselves. 483,000. Wrap your head and heart around that number and then cry like I cry. That is the number of children who will be in the "churn" of homelessness in America this year.

Why? Why can't we make the right moves and push back the impacts against the onslaught that is hurting our kids and destroying our communities? Do you think we are outmatched? That we just can't win it? That we are doomed to lose our kids to this relentless hidden enemy? I don't know about you, but my guess is that if you are reading this article, that you might be like me...

You might just get fired up enough to do something "crazy" like what the people at Solutions for Change are striving for every day. You might even get 'epically pissed' (yeah, I have a 15 year old) and declare an all out IMPERATIVE. The people in and around the Solutions for Change camp have been having this conversation all week. We know how to solve family homelessness with and for the families and communities we serve. We have figured it out through our Solutions University - 1000 days to a permanent solution.

But how do we go in after 483,000 homeless kids?

As a Marine I was trained to never, ever, ever leave a fellow Marine behind. We would go back in there and we would do everything in our power to get that person. It was an attitude so deeply imbedded in us that it wasn't a question of "if" it was how and when and what it was going to take. We just did it with one phrase:

I'm Going In!

I want you to know that we, as a civilized society, can and absolutely should be GOING IN after our homeless children. It is not "if" we should go in after them. It is how, when and what will it take. Damn it, we just need to stop all this "I'm trying" and just do it. Trying is lying.

It is my commitment to you to use whatever skills, knowledge and resources which I have accumulated in my 21 years of leading initiatives and programs to advance this imperative. I believe that this is also an imperative which is growing within the hearts of the people whom I serve at Solutions for Change, both those who work, give and volunteer alongside me, and those who are in our programs on the courageous comeback trail out. Could it be your imperative? Will it?

The more hearts that are engaged and who believe in the imperative, the more lives we will save. It is that simple. Through the Solutions for Change organization we've been making moves and defeating homelessness for over a decade. We don't make moves just to make might see our Pawns and Knights, but our moves put homelessness into Check and then Checkmate. And for those of you who aren't familiar with our model, we fight and defeat homelessness by moving families off the welfare rolls and into jobs, higher education, health related solutions, and back into the community as rent payers and helping others as community givers.

And when we as a community put the impacts of homelessness into checkmate what we are really doing is completely reshaping the future for a once homeless kid. Reshaping futures for many homeless kids.

How many homeless kids’ futures do you want to completely reshape? 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, 483,000?

If it is an imperative for us "impossible is nothing" folks at Solutions for Change, and then YOU make it an imperative, and then YOUR friends make it an imperative, and then their friends make it an imperative...

Reimagine that.....that is what Generational Transformation looks like.

Happy Memorial Day.

Chris Megison
Founding President and CEO