Category Archives: homelessness

Another Parking Meter donation approach surfaces, with follow-up to a panhandling epidemic, but we ask where should the funds raised be deployed? | Ending homelessness in San Luis Obispo | | San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles

Using old parking meters for collecting donations to defer money given to panhandlers to social services is not new.

The visible signs of panhandling!

Many communities have taken this approach, with some being very successful & creative at the same time!

Nashville comes to mind as a more recent effort where design contests were held & the community engaged productively to put together a program that would address the needs of the community.

Here is a quote from a recent article that just came across our daily reading alerts.

They are trying to mimic the success in San Diego & are willing to take it to the next level relating to the panhandling & homeless arrest rates there in San Luis Obispo.

They call for a follow-up approach to the high number of tickets that are in the “system” with the creation of a “homeless court”!

We have seen other communities that have accomplished great things & we’ll write more about that later as the approach to a specialized court has the potential to be a place of outreach for a Housing First initiative too!

He said the next step is fixing the justice system, because as it stands, when a transient gets a ticket for an infraction, like being drunk in public, urinating in public, or aggressively panhandling, the ticket often slides through the system. Gesell said some repeat offenders have dozens of tickets, and they have never made a court appearance.

“There is talk of creating a homeless court, which would focus on our chronic offenders, and we would send them to a commissioner,” said Gesell.

We are also very interested in the direction (which programs they support) of funds raised by such a parking meter program though!

As you may imagine, we are NOT interested in supporting the funds being put to use to grow the same systems of services which are for the most part FAILING to meet the need of this specialized population of homeless folks!

A Housing FIrst campaign & solution is the most productive use of those funds & we call for measured consideration of such a dedicated use of those funds!

via Ending homelessness in San Luis Obispo | | San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles.

via Another Parking Meter donation approach surfaces, with follow-up to a panhandling epidemic, but we ask where should the funds raised be deployed? | Ending homelessness in San Luis Obispo | | San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles.


Homelessness Survival conference | Conferize – Never miss a Conference

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!

Homelessness Survival conference | Conferize – Never miss a Conference.

via Homelessness Survival conference | Conferize – Never miss a Conference.

Our similar vision for Savannah’s Housing First needs | Oma Village – container housing project for homeless in Marin County CA: More About What’s New at Homeward Bound of Marin

The project is called Oma Village after a grassroots effort started last year by the Rev. Betty Pagett of San Rafael known as “Oma” to her grandsons to support homeless families. For more details, please see the Homeward Bound blog on Novato Patch.

We found this project with our good friend Google!

Here’s a robust example of a serious commitment (to the tune of $3M) to take forward what was once a grassroots project by a Pastor!

This is not much un-like our efforts here in Savannah, GA & as we write this we are stymied with the process & concerned that the priority of those involved is not necessarily to create the solution together.

Therefore, we are reaching out to others with developed hearts for this effort who may be able to put us all on a path that more readily gets the project off the ground.

Our efforts to create a “Savannah Area Interfaith Taskforce on Ending Homelessness” most recently with our Exploratory Meeting held on January, 17, 2013 at The Savannah Baptist Center brought out a great crowd anxious to hear how the faith community could possibly come together for this effort.

The vision was shared & in fact there are two pieces of adjacent property on Wheaton St in Savannah ready for us to evaluate for now two separate housing first based projects.

The vision is for one to take on the chronic homeless issue & the other for a similar project for families or women & children!

We are ready to develop a business plan & a supportable business model for these projects! We seek YOUR involvement, whether as part of the broader faith community or individually as you are called!

Notice the FAQ in this linked blog post above that establishes some common questions that we would likely hear from our community as well as we seek to develop this effort.

This FAQ is embedded here for your reading through Scribd:

via More About What’s New at Homeward Bound of Marin.

via Oma Village – container housing project for homeless in Marin County CA: More About What’s New at Homeward Bound of Marin.

What’s your definition of happiness for this New Year?: KLP: Happy New Year? Not on Your Life KLP

What’s your definition of “Happy” for the New Year.

This article challenges us to see what was meant by our forefathers in the Constitution regarding “pursuit of happiness” & helps us relate that to our daily lives as people of faith.

What kind of happiness does our God want for us every day of the New Year?

Read & see if your view of happiness changes for this Year & what kind of life it motivates you to live this Year!

Housing First Works, the details & supporting research: Christy Respress: Partnership Leads to New Beginning for Homeless Veterans

Housing First Works!

After appearing at the recent Public Hearing on the City of Savannah 2013 Action Plan (links below for the video of the Public Hearing) that presented our City’s plans for using CDBG & ESG funding on homelessness (as well as other programs funded by HUD in our community) we saw this referenced blog post on HuffPost DC dealing with Veterans Homelessness, solutions & real stats on the use of Housing First to end chronic (veterans) homelessness in DC.

We went to the Public Hearing to make the City Council & City agencies as well as the public formally aware of alternative solutions being developed in the community for ending homelessness, our Housing First Savannah efforts in particular.

Our comments in summary are presented here:

  • Existing service providers are not interested in delivering housing to our homeless population based on a Housing First Model
  • We have brought together those committed to delivering that housing & supportive services in Savannah into an effort known as Housing First Savannah
  • We seek no direct government funding for this project, although other communities have used CDBG & ESG funds to provide part of the solution
  • We didn’t say that HUD vouchers have in fact been used for a Housing First Model but they have
  • We seek to become funded using Social Impact Bonds (a “pay for success” model)
  • We also seek to engage the broader faith community via a possible Interfaith Taskforce on Ending Homelessness
  • We need to think about our own community 10 year plan for ending homelessness (& our own 5 year plan which was also inherently approved by City Council on Thursday, 11/1/12) in light of Housing First being encouraged by HUD & the USICH agency with their recently announced modified NOFA process

We thought it particularly timely that this referenced article was located for a few reasons.

What is Housing First you ask? Here’s a quote from the linked article that helps understand outcomes from Housing First models & that’s what it’s all about, right?

An important quote summarizing the outcomes experienced & the research about Housing First from the linked article:

A concept originally developed by Pathways to Housing, “Housing First” has been shown to end chronic homelessness for 88 percent of participants, and prevent the recurrences of homelessness that are so common for formerly homeless individuals. (Similar efforts using an older model, which required homeless people to get clean or sober before getting an apartment have resulted in 47 percent success rates.) In the past decade, Housing First has caught on across the country. Close to home, the model is embraced in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and Northern Virginia, as well as the District.

We had just had a visit at the site of the new HUGS Day Center (Shelter) by the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board members & guests (including someone from the Savannah Morning News who was also invited).

We had also been invited to attend a Rotary Club East Savannah’s weekly meeting to present HUGS, the organization & solutions provided to our homeless & others for counseling etc.

Housing First has many misunderstandings attached to it that we hope to dispel in the near future with meaningful dialog so that we can all gain consensus.

Several of these misunderstandings were displayed in the Public Hearing with comments made by the local Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless Interim Executive Director.

Claims of “revolving doors” being created by Housing First & the lack of certification of services, including a plea for the City to NOT divert any funding to a solution that implements Housing First, show several aspects of misunderstanding & pure lack of knowledge of the services model we are using, based on a commitment to the outcomes of the person with innovative, volunteer based services (although all volunteers are certified providers of counseling services, with an interest in the whole person & the healing that comes along with the services provided by HUGS, more on this later & info available on the HUGS website).

So this referenced article tends to dispel some of the myths, many of which reside in a deep commitment to sobriety by current service models vs a recovery-based services model that we will deliver.

Read on, then ask yourself what you as a community want for our homeless community! Read both the article linked to as well as the detailed research linked to in the previous quote if you want the facts.

If you’d like to hear the actual presentation to Council by Housing First Savannah & the response by the CoC (as well as the proposed comments which weren’t allowed by Dr Carter, CEO of Union Mission) then listen here (caution, this video is not indexed & the comments in the Public Hearing referenced above don’t start until about an hour into the video).

We would be very interested in engaging the community in understanding the realities of Housing First & the differences in the services model that we believe HUGS brings to the table & which may very well make our outcomes better than those presented in this research.

We are also willing to put our funding on the line with “Pay for Success” models as provided for in Social Impact Bonds!

Comments, thoughts & connections welcome!

via Christy Respress: Partnership Leads to New Beginning for Homeless Veterans.

A discussion worth having: We Still Need Shelters | Union Rescue Mission

We Still Need Shelters | Union Rescue Mission.

A discussion worth having!

First of all, we respect URM & Andy for their position & for prompting this discussion we must be having!

Here is Andy’s lead-in to his post which sets the tone for a subsequent discussion we hope to be having here:

As you may know, I’ve been speaking up for Rescue Missions and shelters, while much of the country has been discrediting our work.  In some recent blogs I have said:

“Resources are moving and moving quickly, away from shelters and transitional housing beds, towards housing first initiatives, which is believed to be the new way to end homelessness.  See my earlier blogs for notes on this.  As the resources move, shelters, transitional housing, and the beds therein are being removed from the scene, and the number of precious people on the streets, in tents, and in cars continues to increase.  However as the next count rolls out, the easier more accurate part of the count-those in shelter and transitional housing beds-will have dwindled, and the more difficult, nearly impossible part of the count, going out on the streets looking for people, will continue to be difficult, and it will appear, or be made to appear, that homelessness has decreased, when in fact, homelessness has increased”.

We feel a need to embed Andy’s quote of Nan Roman’s position & that seems an appropriate lead-in to the questions we share below (in order to continue the discussion here) – she made her comments at the NAEH 2012 Annual Convention – full keynote here (which we didn’t get to attend this year unfortunately, we would have loved to be in this discussion live & real-time too!):

Now, one of the biggest proponents of permanent housing as the solution, Nan Roman, the head of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, has admitted that shelters are still needed.  That is what I wanted someone to finally admit! Please take time to read this excerpt from her recent remarks. They speak for themselves.  I’ve included her recent remarks to close my blog;

The other issue that we at the Alliance have been examining is the homeless crisis system: how it should be sized and what it should look like. For many years now the design of the crisis system has largely been neglected, and the idea of emergency shelter as a solution has been demonized and characterized as inadequate – as a mere “Band-Aid.”

It’s true that the shelters ALONE are not the solution, but it is equally true that the majority of people who become homeless are single, able-bodied adults for whom the interventions of permanent supportive housing and transitional housing are too intensive. As we do with other human service programs, we tend to think of the crisis system in terms of the people who stay there the longest. But in reality, the majority of people who enter emergency shelters quickly move in and then move on. For them shelter is an effective short term solution – as it was designed to be.

For most people, the shelter serves its purpose as a temporary place to stay while they work out whatever kind of housing crisis they are experiencing. Most people do not stay in the system long, and they typically do not come back, or only come back once.

The crisis system also serves a vital sorting function. People enter the system when they need to, but because it is so bare bones and so unpleasant, they have little incentive to stay longer than is absolutely necessary. In this way the system sorts the people with the greatest need, the people who require the most intensive interventions, from the majority of people who are experiencing a crisis that they can handle more or less on their own. To design a good shelter or crisis system, we must answer the following questions.

  • What should it do?
  • What should be its overall size?
  • What types and number of specialized beds should be available? Most jurisdictions have a good number of beds for single adult men, but have few or none for couples, youth, people with pets, or for people who have active substance abuse issues.
  • Who should manage the shelter system, and who should be responsible for determining how many and what kind of beds are needed, and who gets each bed?
  • What is the relationship between shelter, detox and rehab, and what should it be?
  • What should be the length of stay?
  • How should the shelter system link to the back door?
  • Do the centralized one-stop-shops and campuses really work? Are they more effective or less effective than a decentralized approach?
  • If you want to fix your shelter system, where do you start? What is the first thing to take on, what is next, etc.?

Today we recognize that, if we are to end the problem of homelessness, we must transition from a program-based approach to a systems-based approach. Figuring out what the crisis system should look like is a crucial part of that, because it is sure to remain the front door and the point of assessment for further interventions. Re-tooling this system is absolutely critical, and something we are anxious to explore with you over the next year. But if you thought I would have answers to the questions above – not yet! We do, however, have a few ideas.

We firmly believe that the time a person spends in shelter should be very short. One key goal set by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act is that no one experience homelessness for a period longer than 30 days. Ideally, people should move through the shelter system fast. The faster people leave, the greater the turnover rate, the fewer the number of beds needed, and the greater the likelihood that the quality of shelters can be addressed, which is important, because right now the quality of shelters must be improved. In many places the standards remain very low.

To accomplish this, shelters should be a place of assessment, and shelter personnel should have a variety of tools to draw upon in order to provide the help people need to move on. More rapid re-housing tools would certainly facilitate this process, and people in the shelter system could be connected to community-based service slots. In short, shelter personnel could probably empower people in the shelter system to accomplish on their own many of the things that transitional housing and other back end interventions currently do for them.

-Nan Roman The National Alliance to End Homelessness

So our questions (for discussion below in comments on this post) would be:

  • Do we need more shelter beds?
  • Has Housing First been over-promised?
  • What issues does Housing First address regarding people who are homeless who have tried shelters or won’t use them?
  • What innovations do we need around Housing First in its current state?
  • How can Social Impact Bonds level the playing field & let the “opposing” approached prove themselves?
  • Many more issues to discuss but here’s a start!
  • We are ion the path to some innovations around Housing FIrst with both the housing stock itself & the services wrapped around & embedded in the new form of housing!
  • And, is all Housing First the same? Are we working with common understandings?
  • Most importantly, is there a distinction in shelter & Housing FIrst approaches around sobriety first vs Housing First & Recovery after housing vs before?

Stay tuned & look at to stay in touch & support our efforts!

Also, here are two comments we made on another Facebook friend’s posting of Andy’s blog – with his statement when he shared the post too:

Housing First SavannahHomelessnessInSavannahGeekTheHomelessVoxPatriainSavannah