September 6, 2014

Is the Housing First Model the Right Design for North San Diego County's Homeless Families?

It is here. In San Diego now and being touted by the homeless policy guru's, the advocates and the self described homeless experts as the best way to "end" homelessness in the United States of America.

For Tammy and me and our team we've seen it coming for years. Our greatest challenge is not found in the deeper and more complex engagements with and for the homeless families we serve. Our greatest challenge is that we are up against a multibillion dollar funded design that enables and underwrites the very poverty, addiction, abuse and homelessness that we are trying to guide people deeper into the root causes and solve.

Here is an example of what I mean.

A homeless mother with two kids who has a history of poverty, unemployment, addiction and abusive relationships walks through a door that says "Help Here".

There are two options.

Option A: Privately funded response. You will get housing, food and professional services for your family. There is no charge initially but in exchange you must get up early five days a week and WORK. Don't worry about not having a job, you will be provided one initially until you get the one that you want. You will also be provided employment related training, education, counseling and a host of health related solutions. Your kids will be provided child care and a therapist should you desire. You'll be assigned to a team of other people who were just like you but have beat their homelessness, permanently. They will guide you and lift you up. This option is not easy, in fact you will be working hard everyday to acquire the skills, knowledge and resources you need to defeat homelessness and poverty, permanently. It is a 1000 day rebuilding partnership called Solutions University that will provide a pathway to an entirely new future. When you are done, you will be off welfare and in your own home, employed full time, healthy and a leader for your family and for your community.

Option B: Government funded response. You will get free housing immediately. That's right, there is no charge. National advocates and government policy makers have figured out that it is cheaper for the taxpayer to pay 100% of your housing than to pay 100% of the negative impacts related to you and your kids being homeless. And there are NO requirements because if there were, the advocates are afraid you won't accept the free housing. You do not have to work. You do not have to attend any classes. You do not have to engage in counseling or any support services at all if you don't want to. You do not have to stop using illegal drugs. That's right. It's your choice to stop or not. If you've been committing crimes, say prostituting yourself, it's your choice to stop or not. You can have your abusive ex boyfriend stay with you if you want. As long as you don't burn the place down or threaten your neighbors, you can remain here.

If you were homeless with two kids and a history of poverty, abuse and trauma, what option would you select? I love that you might say Option A, but realistically thousands today around the country are opting for Option B.

Flash forward five years. Ten years. What do you see? Do you see less homelessness and poverty? Less addiction and crime? Or do you see a new generation of homeless, addicts, criminals and lost souls?

We need your discernment now. There aren't many pushing back on this model. If we wait much longer, it will be too late.

June 28, 2014

Excuse me Ma'am...

Humor me for a few minutes and follow along with this satirical example of a woman who is on her way to work one morning and has this exchange with a homeless person who has been living on the street....

Excuse me ma’am. As you know I've been living out in front of your house on your sidewalk these past few years. You've probably figured out by now that I am addicted. I know that there is treatment for my addiction but I’m just not ready yet and frankly as everyone else here on the block knows, you can’t make me help myself. I know I've been costing you a lot of grief and money to deal with all my problems like when you have to call the police or the paramedics. Or how about that time I got really drunk and scared your kids to death…I am really sorry about that!

But the advocates and bureaucrats have figured out this great new way for you to deal with me. You and the other neighbors will save a lot of your taxpayer money and you’ll get me off your sidewalk forever! Here is how it works. Instead of me costing $30,000 to $50,000 a year in police and paramedic intervention expense this new way, so say the advocates, will only cost you $10,000 to $15,000 per year. All you have to do is pay 100% of my rent, pay all my utilities and buy me the food I need and do that for as long as I need it! But here is the really great thing…I don’t want you to expect anything from me in return, like getting a job or addressing my addiction because if you did, I wouldn’t do it and then I’d still be in front of your house causing you all that grief! And here is the really great thing, I’m going to be your neighbor! It will cost you far less to just pay all my living expenses then it would be for me to stay homeless in front of your house. 

So what do you think? It is a great idea right? But even if you don’t think it’s a great idea, the government thinks it is and they are going to do it whether you like it or not. Howdy neighbor!

Get ready San Diego. This new government program to give the homeless free no-strings-attached taxpayer subsidized housing is coming to your neighborhood soon.
It is happening right beneath your noses, cloaked in the designer clothing of helping our homeless veterans, then our chronic homeless, then… As one of my formerly homeless friends who rebuilt his life the old fashioned way (hard work) said this week; "if America were to go to a free socialized housing model, where do you think our government would start so that it could get everyone used to the idea?" Good question.