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.


Scottshs said...

I Agree empower through empowerment.
A hand up not a handout.If you talk to most homeless people they will tell you teach me how to use a hammer please, don't help me fill out paper work. It embarrasses people when you tell them they can't, or shouldn't because they have barriers of any kind.Want the truth ask people don't tell them.
Keep moving forward Chris and your team. Cause everyone does it doesn't make it right. Scott H.Silverman

Chris Megison said...

Thanks for your encouragement and support Scott. If there is anyone out there who truly understands the dynamics of this issue, it's you. Many best wishes to you and your new efforts to help people.