I believe we cannot end homelessness in our country, do you?
by Renee Crosby
I believe we cannot end homelessness in our country, do you? I mean after all, Jesus said, “you will always have the poor among you.” [John 12:8] Is it time for us to just reconcile that it is a cause without end? Let’s face it people, it’s a daunting, worldly, far reaching problem that will never stop! There I said it.
So how do we approach the problem of homelessness in our country? First, let’s stop naming programs that guarantee failure and lead to mass disappointment to end these problems to the point where we throw in the towel.
Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:
- Seattle, WA: Names Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness
- June 2010, Obama administration: set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
- Nashville, TN: In 2013 the city launched How’s Nashville, a concerted effort to end chronic homelessness by the end of the decade.
- Denver, CO: Denver’s Road Home Program, 10 year plan to end homelessness
- Chicago, IL: Chicago’s Plan 2.0, is a broad ranging 7 year action plan.
- Portland, OR: in 2004 pledged to end homelessness by 2014.
Are we all so delusional to think that we can really end homelessness- and why is the magic number seem often be 10 years? Let’s scrap it and start over! Our first concern is one I have pointed out in my book, The Fringe. Who the government labels as homeless—are they really homeless? Well, interestingly enough, the definition used by the government, of those meeting those guidelines—the majority of them do not believe they are homeless. What’s up with that?
Are we throwing money and time into a problem that doesn’t really exist? Ha! No, the problem of homelessness really does exist. But here is how I see as a reclassification of the term homeless.
Our social structure and government programs have long held onto the theory that there is the upper class, the middle class and the lower class. There needs to be a dramatic shift in the social paradigm of our country.
Here is what I state in my book, “perhaps it is time for the Urban Dictionary to add a new term for our times, Permanently Adaptive Temporally Housed. I proclaim PATH people, a brave people blazing a new trail, a new path in society.” (page 77) These people, mostly families, are without a permanent residence. By government definition, they are homeless. They are the majority that do not believe they themselves are homeless. They have “shelter,” albeit doubled or tripled up in homes or living from one motel to another. These are PATH people. They have a very different level of socio-economic needs that cannot be addressed until the government quits calling them homeless and lumping them into the same category of homeless.
Then and only then can we develop social programs to help elevate their quality of life while at the same time focus homeless funding on the “real” homeless. I believe for all intents and purposes the term homeless should only include those that have no shelter. They have a completely different set of life complications that need to be addressed as compared to those that are PATH people. We are wasting government funding by throwing money at these two groups as if they are the same. They are not! If you don’t fully understand either of these life styles, please read my book, The Fringe, A Secret Society. It gives a very realistic and true picture based on true stories of homeless people and what their lives are really like.
I truly believe that once we establish two separate groups from the one group of government labeled “homeless” can we then really come to end homelessness. But the way it stands now, I have my serious doubts.
How about you? What do you feel about our social programs from Roosevelt on? Are they working? Do they work for everyone? Do you think the approach to these two different levels of low income should be clarified?
I’m inclined to think that the problem can be substantially solved, and that Utah has very nearly solved it: http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-state-may-be-the-first-to-end-homelessness-for-good-2015-2?r=US&IR=T.
Sadly, I can’t see mu own country (the UK) doing so in the foreseeable future; there is a really substantial housing shortage. Admittedly, if you matched those with no accommodation or in overcrowded accommodation with unused space, you could solve it, but that is not going to happen in any foreseeable future. I regard this as a massive failure of government here.
I grant you that what we tend to call the “couch-surfer” has a different set of needs, but they tend not to be labelled “homeless” here in any event.
I am aware, however, that there is always going to be a small number of people who just don’t want to be “homed”; thus I started by saying “substantially” rather than “totally”.