Are you in the Housing First game?
It’s time to see if we have the political, social & personal will to get to make Housing First a priority to end homelessness for a group of people for whom “one size doesn’t fit”!
What is it going to take to get this community behind a
Housing First project?
Premise: we can’t wait a year (or more) for the Ten Year Plan to evolve, we need an early start approach to Housing First & building consensus on the value of Housing First as a model for Savannah!
Why can’t we wait you may (hopefully) be asking?
Because – we MUST be ready to give them housing (first) to help them get to this point:
Let’s start asking & answering the tough questions NOW!
Do we have in this community the political, social & personal will to step up to the Social Justice plate?
Note: we could keep adding…
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The country is beginning to realize that it cannot enforce or imprison its way out of the addiction problem. But to create broadly accessible and effective treatment strategies for the millions of people who need them, it must abandon the “drug war” approach to addiction that has dominated the national discourse in favor of a policy that treats addiction as a public health issue.
This issue is one of the major factors in our chronic homelessness issue in this country & in Savannah, where we can do something about it!
We have an opportunity to bring our community together to take on this issue which is personal to many of us!
We can address this issue in our own community with our own innovative approach to housing & services known as Housing First Savannah!
We don’t need an already dysfunctional federal or state services model to be propagated & paid for with federal or state healthcare dollars though!
We already have a counseling services program running & delivering very effective group.& individual counseling services inside some existing shelter system approaches.
That’s Heads Up Guidance Services (better known as HUGS to those of us dedicated to a better way to provide counseling to underserved populations)!
But in order to expand this set if services to more in need of them in Savannah we do NOT need more shelters!
We must develop the urgency to build consensus around Housing First as an approach that has worked elsewhere!
We MUST ask ourselves (& be ready for the answers) “why can’t it work here in Savannah?”, then be ready to work together to develop a way for it to work here!
So, we leave you with this question:
Who in Savannah is ready to be a part of that strategic planning process?
Here’s the article that got us on this train of thought:
We’re still on the “Choose Compassion, See What Happens” & Social Justice bandwagon too but maybe appealing to the side that says tax savings & solutions that don’t rely on gover nment funding will sway more or additional resources & consideration of innovative (for Savannah) approaches!
Here’s a hopefully thought provoking post about tying the fact that a sculpture of “Jesus the Homeless” was in fact “homeless”, how under the bridge ministries (as a natural extension to our street ministries) reach the homeless in their ultimate pain, to the need for a renewed effort to treat homelessness as a social justice issue (by creating “The Just Church”).
We can only pray that this effort can have our community (village) see the value in an interfaith effort to deliver on the Housing First model to make a difference in Savannah’s approach to ending homelessness!
“Homeless Jesus had no home,” says the artist, Timothy Schmalz, who specializes in religious sculpture. “How ironic.”
Watch the sculptor share his reaction to finding it so hard to find a home for his Jesus the Homeless piece!
You see another quote in the article where we first heard about this sculpture of Jesus spoke to us:
“A lot of people who don’t live in Toronto or a big urban place are shocked to see human forms under blanket on too many street corners.”
The reason it speaks to us is that it’s the obvious place we might see a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench.
We’ve shared the above image in posts showing a homeless person on a bench in what looks like a very comfortable position, nice pillow, a comforter that might be keeping them warm in the cold, but when you really consider the invisible homeless…
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We’re holding a conference on Homelessness Survival, in Savannah & everywhere!
How do we get homeless people off the streets, out of the tent cities & into Housing First, the ultimate survival technique for homelessness!
Join in & suggest speakers & topics for “presentations” & discussion! ALL are welcome!
Why Housing First matters (It’s about People!):
Please view our presentation at the end of this blog post!
Chronic homelessness incurs high costs for communities because individuals experiencing homelessness are frequent users of community services. Consequently, chronic homelessness can be a major strain on local community budgets. The biggest costs to communities are health care expenses, because of frequent and avoidable inpatient hospitalizations, and visits to emergency rooms, detoxification centers, and nursing homes. Other high costs are associated with the criminal justice system.
Figure 1: Public Cost of Services for Homeless Individuals (2004-2009)
Each community gets different results & has different cost structures for these items – what are Savannah;s you ask – we’ll find out, together!
What Housing First accomplishes:
The most effective type of supportive housing uses the Housing First approach, which seeks to screen in rather than screen out individuals with substance abuse and mental illness. Often, people with these conditions are not eligible to receive housing assistance from other programs, many of which require clients to be free of drugs and alcohol. Housing First seeks to move these hard-to-house individuals into permanent housing quickly and then to provide them with the support services they need to achieve and maintain housing stability. As “Opening Doors” highlights, the research is clear that PSH using a Housing First approach is the best solution for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness—and it is the most cost-effective solution for states and communities. Compared with repeated use of emergency services and jails, there is no question that PSH is the better option.
What’s an example of savings you ask:
Source: a report on Housing First, a study for Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority
And those savings are documented across multiple environments & states:
Figure 2: Cost of Serving the Homeless Declines in Permanent Supportive Housing (2005-2008)
How PSH (Permanent Supportive Housing) becomes Housing First:
It takes a change in focus, understanding & compassion. It’s also the right thing to do for taxpayers! Graphs above show the relative value of Housing First & PSH!
Why Housing First Works:
This change in mindset translates to showing the love & compassion of a community towards those who can’t seem to fit the mold (one size doesn’t fit all!).
Taxpayer savings are nice too! Innovative approaches are needed however to get even more value from Housing First & PSH models for the taxpayer & community in today’s climate!
It’s about People:
Hear what one program director & participants have to say about their program & the difference it’s made in their lives both as service providers & program participants!
Review the SAMSHA Analysis of the Housing Fist Model which says “Housing First Works“!
The Housing First Savannah approach:
The Savannah Model is an adaptation of these approaches! It focuses on not using Federal dollars or HUD Vouchers as we believe we have a much more innovative approach & model.
It’s time for innovation in the Housing First model to take into account our fiscal situation as a nation & community! We do not seek government dollars as we believe it’s the responsibility of the entire community to address its homelessness issues.
View our Executive Summary on Housing First Savannah’s website!
Let’s get the discussion going & then do a proof of concept, pilot or just get it rolling!
Comments, feedback & engagement welcome:
- Engage with the Faith Community Taskforce as they develop a Response to Homelessness
- Become a Partner in Housing First Savannah
- Learn more about the housing development model that will create jobs & a new industry for Savannah
- Other jobs initiatives are underway within the services component for Housing First Savannah, see an example in a linked post we recently did (link below)
- See why & how this approach to Housing First (communities of restoration & recovery) can work for all populations of homelessness: chronic, veterans, family, women & children, prison re-entry, mental health, domestic violence, … (each served uniquely with projects & communities focused on each population)
- View a presentation recently given at the Chatham Safety Net Council monthly meeting (link to presentation posting below)
- Become part of the next Strategic Plan (Ten Year Plan) process – this should be done “with” the community not “for” us, it’s not a black box approach to end homelessness, there’s also a lot to learn & apply new innovative solutions that have worked elsewhere – why not in Savannah you ask? A topic for another blog post or two! 🙂
Our Housing First presentation with more justifications & background on why housing first for Savannah, how to get there & a vision for Savannah’s approach to Housing First!
- Have you wondered how to get our homeless working again? | Jobs can come with (or after) Housing First! (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Are you ready to: Restart your Compassion And Justice? | compliments of: YouVersion, the Bible App – Featured Reading Plans (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- A Presentation on Housing First, saving healthcare dollars & more for taxpayers in Savannah! (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
Jobs in the traditional job sector are possible as are newly created opportunities for income that are possible using individual unique talents provided by God!
View the video below & feel free to comment here about how we should implement this or a similar program for our homeless & all unemployed or under-employed Savannahians!
The email newsletter from Jesus Was Homeless characterizes this as a program for the tourism sector too, so let’s check it out & get our local tourism leadership group involved!
We are interested in their model for working with the unemployed & underemployed in our community as we always have been!
See if this video gives you the confidence that it can be done & let’s get started in Savannah!
Our HUGS (Heads Up Guidance Services) partner for Housing First Savannah will be bringing a jobs viewpoint to the counseling & services they perform for us & as well in the Day Center they are launching…
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