The Most Effective Way to End Homelessness

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Blog, Slider | 0 comments

The Most Effective Way to End Homelessness

Homelessness has only existed as a sociological phenomenon for about 30 years. We’ve always had homelessness with us to some degree, but the numbers skyrocketed in the early 1980s. Because of this, we’re still learning how best to address the problem and we are also immersed in a time of great innovation and discovery.

When I first became the Executive Director of the Shalom Center over 3 years ago, I thought the first thing Shalom should do is try to build a new permanent year-round, low barrier shelter. Shelter is the first thing and often the only thing many of us think of when we consider how to address the challenge of homelessness. But with all the experimentation occurring and the success that some communities are having in dramatically reducing homelessness, I’ve learned through time and study that if our ultimate goal is ending homelessness, we need to expand our approach and direct our efforts to more than just shelter.

There are a few things we’ve come to know:

  • The more time someone stays in shelter, the more likely that person is to continue to stay in shelter.
  •  The most humane and least expensive approach is to prevent homelessness before it happens.
  • The next most humane and cost-effective approach is to help someone back into a home as quickly as possible.
  • Ending chronic homelessness requires a special approach uk cialis online.
  • Shelter is essential in the work of ending homelessness, but given its impact, we should aim to have it be a last resort.

To explore the possibilities, there is some value in envisioning the shelter system as a house with a front door where people enter when they become homeless or at risk of homelessness and a back door where people leave when they return to a home.
Assessment system

With this visual in mind and the goal of being most effective at ending
homelessness, we want to reduce the number of people who enter the shelter (what are called front door strategies) and increase the number of people who exit the shelter (back door strategies).

Front door strategies include prevention (short-term rent and utility assistance, plus supportive services to help someone stay in their home), mediation (helping resolve conflict that may have led to homelessness), and personal resources (family or friends that might take someone in and the transportation assistance to get to them).

Back door strategies include rapid re-housing (the same as prevention but for moving into a new home after becoming homeless), permanent supportive housing (a Housing First approach targeted to people experiencing long-term homelessness due to disability, which provides housing and services to help a person maintain a home), and affordable housing (requiring community-wide investment).

Assessment or triage becomes the process by which the best approach is assessed for a given person as they engage services.

I find this model profoundly exciting because communities are using it to reduce homelessness drastically. Shalom has already begun to invest in this process with the Crawford Homes Program (a Housing First permanent supportive housing program) and a rapid re-housing program. With your help, we’d like to expand those programs and invest more in this comprehensive approach.