Category Archives: interfaith response to 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.

Do you want to help our homeless get “Back on Track”? | Housing for the Homeless: 14 Smart & Sensitive Solutions | WebUrbanist

We are regularly looking on Google for ideas & other projects that we can show folks to get them engaged on the idea of container housing for the homeless!

Well, we think we’ve struck gold now! Here’s the winner of a competition in Melbourne, Australia,

We never claimed to be the first with the idea but here is an example that wraps creative & innovative services (maybe not as innovative as our model for services from HUGS!) but with the idea of jobs thrown in too!

Look at this image for a second then read the project description under the image:

Winner of a competition by Tesseract Collective, ‘Back on Track’ is a comprehensive proposal for homeless rehabilitation that involves not just housing but also community and improving long-term prospects. Going beyond just the requirements for immediate survival, ‘Back on Track’ is designed to be located along a strip of railway in designer Sarah Crowley’s town of Melbourne, Australia. Appropriating an under-used urban space that can be integrated into the surrounding city, the design includes a series of public programs that provide jobs and activities for the ‘formerly homeless’ that would live there.

Would you give this project an award or choose it as a winner?

Watch these videos to learn more about container housing for the homeless in general:

What are your thoughts on this model for Savannah?

How would you like to help?

Comments & connections are welcome! We can use all the help we can get!!


via Housing for the Homeless: 14 Smart & Sensitive Solutions | WebUrbanist.

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

Another Community adopts Housing First: Fredericksburg, VA & how they made it happen, lives changed!

Another community realizes that more shelters & traditional transitional housing models don’t work!

How did they come to that conclusion you ask? Compassionate thinking! Driven by people of Faith who had been doing the shelter approach too & realized that it wasn’t meeting the need most likely, the results weren’t being seen that the community really needs!

Also successes all across the country & within the rest of their State too!

So, what’s our answer, Savannah?

We’ll start down our path after the Assessment Team brings their Final Report to the table this Tuesday & a Workshop is held to start us down some path!

Who will decide the path? Well the existing Board of the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless will be there, but so will we, with our freshly launched Housing First Savannah model ready for discussion!

All existing Service Providers part of the Continuum of Care represented but the opportunity to expand & reach out, getting the involvement & engagement of even more people at the table to be part of the solution.

That’s what it’s going to take to enable dramatic change, more stakeholders with a vested interest in bringing new solutions & approaches to bear!

New funding sources must be found, not the diminishing government approaches to funding, although they are interested in Housing First & engaging the communities more in being part of the solution.

Our model that’s the grand daddy of them all is Los Angeles, where their Chamber, United Way & Service Provider Community came together in 2010 to announced their way forward, Home For Good!

How can the “Church” get involved in Ending Homelessness? Start here!

This tweet (embedded below) came across today from someone I follow on Twitter! Their usual tweets are forward thinking & deal with systemic change, innovation, getting organizations to partner & such other new ways to address homelessness that are being modeled in other communities.

But this tweet stood out for me personally! I retweet a lot of this persons tweets because of his experience & connections to the issues of homelessness from many perspectives. He helps people deliver those new solutions!

But the most inspiring thing in this tweet is something that I try to relate to people who I seek to engage with about how we get people to become personal with & bring a connection of faith to the reasons we get involved in ending homelessness, one person at a time.

Because it is what He demands of us! It just takes some longer than others to come to this realization & some of us go through a longer journey with a convoluted path but eventually we must all come to this realization.

We do it by making it personal, getting to know a homeless person (or a person living in poverty), their life, story, dreams, hopes & desires for their lives. Restore those hopes they have likely lost & see where the conversation & their lives go!

Better yet, go read this story, then come back & answer the question: “What would happen to your congregations involvement in ending homelessness, one persona at a time, if your Pastor, Lay Leaders, Deacons or others in “control” of your missions & outreach programs experienced what this church did?

To learn more about solutions we are developing here in Savannah for our Housing First Savannah programs please check out our website, find us on Facebook, Twitter or our blog.

Links to all our social media presences are on the website!