Today’s guest blogger is Ali Ryder, a Planner with OrgCode
This week, I had the privilege of being invited by the fine folks at Heartland
Alliance to act as a coach at their Working to End Homelessness
Innovation Workshop, part of their Connections
Project. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet with great
people from across the country, who were all excited to try new
innovative approaches to connect homeless people with employment! I
learned so much, but here are my top takeaways:
1. Everyone wants to break silos, but no one is 100% sure how to do
A lot of project teams said that there were great housing
programs in their community, and great employment programs in their
community, but since they had different goals and funding streams, it
was always identified as a challenge to get these programs to work
2. There are a lot more federal programs than people know about
“Collective Impact is the commitment of a group of actors
from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social
problem, using a structured form of collaboration (definition from
Wikipedia).” Okay, maybe it’s not
so new, but isn’t getting everyone to work together a good thing?
4. There’s a lot of talent out there
The Innovation Workshop was just the top 10 teams from across the
country, and they all had great ideas! I’m sure not jealous of
the team at Heartland Alliance that has to figure out which ones are the
best of the best.
5. Engaging the business sector can be done, but it requires
thinking a certain way
If you’re trying to engage regular business people with your
program, you need to make sure you speak their language. Instead
of asking them for a favor (“please, just give this guy/gal a
chance!”), turn the tables. How are you
helping them? Maybe they’re a landlord or
employer with a high turnover rate, and they don’t want to go
through yet another hunt for a new tenant/employee. Tell them how
you are helping them save time and effort. And then follow through
– it doesn’t work if you make a promise and don’t deliver.
6. The ending homelessness realm is actually pretty
You might not believe me, but think about this. There was a way
we used to do things, and then a couple people started trying to do
things differently. They called it Housing First. It worked
really well. Other people tried it. It caught on. The
federal government is behind it. There’s funding changes that
support evidence-based and evidence-informed best practices. The
HEARTH act is referred to as a “game-changer.” We know things
about how you can get the biggest impact by focusing on persons with the
highest needs. We have assessment tools that efficiently help case
managers know exactly what kind of intervention would be best for an
In contrast, what is there for trying to connect a similar population
for employment? The very same innovators that attended this
Workshop (who were more knowledgeable about employment programs than me)
said that the system was backwards, encouraging programs to help people
who were “job-ready” and easy to help. And for those with
higher needs, there was no tool to help service providers identify
whether they would be good candidates for supported employment, job
training, or something else entirely.
7. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is an opportunity
It’s a new piece of legislation that, among other things, requires
states to develop new strategies, and look at the barriers of individual
job seekers. This is an opportunity for CoC leaders to get
involved in the planning process, and have input on how to make better
connections to employment programs.
8. There’s a lot of interest in a tool like the SPDAT, but with an
Maybe it’s something we should work on in the future. What do
Develop and Support Homelessness Advisory Board
Those who are are were homeless and those who had or have friends and
family in homelessness.
Stop the process of "churning," discharging from shelters
just because time is up. HUD Policy says a shelter must "have" a
policy, but doesn't limit it to the standard of 30 or 60 days with an extension.
At Focus Strategies
we believe that in America people living on the streets and in shelters is
an unnecessary tragedy. Even with growing income inequality, poverty and
high housing costs, no one has to be without a place to live for more than
30 days. We believe this based on the growing evidence
from around the country and our own work
which shows that with a reorientation of approach and resources, we can
effectively end homelessness in our communities.
But to reach this vision,
our approach to addressing homelessness must change.
What happened? Many
factors led to the development of modern homelessness as we know it today.
When modern homelessness first emerged it was treated as a crisis, and
emergency shelters were opened across the country to shelter people who
didn’t have housing. But as the problem increased, the field took a
wrong turn. Although we understood that most poor people lose their
housing as a result of a crisis1, we focused our attention on the many
problems we identified within the people...lack of education, substance
use, domestic violence. When emergency shelters did not solve the problem
of homelessness, we began to add more services, longer stays, more
expertise, more "programming" for people to "help
them" while they were still homeless.
The Federal government increasingly put money into longer-term programs
and together we created "homeless people." Even while many of us
were saying "housing ends homelessness", we invested ever
greater resources in serving people
without housing, rather than housing them.
This is not to say that
the people who lack housing may not need assistance tailored to their
specific needs. Quite the opposite. Many issues can contribute to a
crisis. Help to address these issues and to achieve greater
self-sufficiency is important for many households, both housed and
temporarily unhoused. But if we use our limited re-housing resources for
these services, we will always serve the few and ignore the many who need
Changing the response: Changing
our response requires basing our approach on what the data tells us. We
know that most people
who have lost their housing are indistinguishable from very low-income
people who have housing, with one major difference – right now, they are
not housed. Many people in America face significant challenges to their
household stability and well-being. Nearly 47 million Americans are living
in poverty. On a given night there are only approximately 610,000 people
who are homeless. Many, many poor people have the same issues that we
associate with people who are homeless, and yet they are not homeless and
do not require intensive services to make them "suitable" or
"ready" for housing. We would not go into the homes of every
person who has a substance abuse problem, mental health issue, budgeting
difficulties, relationship problems, poor education, underemployment, or
other problems, take them out of their housing, and put them in a holding
place while they worked on those things. And yet, with people who have no
housing we do exactly that – we identify these things as the
"reasons" for their homelessness and try to fix them before we
help them get housed.
1 Medical crisis,
sudden loss of income, domestic violence or family dissolution are the
primary precursors to homelessness.
Similarly, research tells
us that once people who have lost housing are rehoused, the vast majority
remain housed even under conditions that appear to be unsustainable. Most
people who experience a period of homelessness become rehoused fairly
quickly, with or without help. Some people with extensive barriers to
housing need ongoing support, but the majority do not. Assistance to
simply regain housing and connect to other support is sufficient to end
homelessness for most people.
"homelessness" means changing our idea of what our field is here
to do. What
we need is not just a funding shift – though we need that—and not just
a change of programs – though we need that too. It is a wholesale
re-visioning of what we are trying to accomplish and how we measure the
impact of our work. We must begin to see our role as the
people who get people who have nowhere to live housed. Not
the people who fix poverty, not the people who provide job training, or
treat substance abuse or mental illness – though we may need to help
some of our clients get those services– but the people who help get
other people into housing.
The housing crisis
resolution system is like a hospital emergency department. Practitioners
who work in ED’s have a different view of their jobs than General
Practitioners. ED docs are there to stop the crisis from getting worse, to
save lives, and get people back to the lives they were leading. General
Practitioners are there to help a person address their health issues
holistically and over the long-term by making different life choices or
trying different medical interventions. Similarly, we are here to help
people without housing have a place to live.
There is an entire
anti-poverty system designed to help with other needs that impact
long-term well-being, such as education, employment, and behavioral
health. Along the way, like an ED ensuring the patient gets an appointment
with a specialist for follow-up or making suggestions for life changes, we
may help households on the road to greater well-being and economic
improvement, but the responsibility of the crisis resolution system is to
use all of its resources to do what no one else does well: help people
with the most difficulty getting housing to get and keep the housing they
To do this, every
community must develop a Housing
Crisis Resolution System that
takes as its mission one thing: to rehouse people who are without housing,
and to do so within 30 days.
Providers in this system must:
Move from a
"my clients" approach to an "our clients" approach
that recognizes that all people without housing can and should be offered
on the numbers of people they successfully rehouse, how quickly and how
programs and staff to this approach; and reorient the private resources
they control to this end
Funders of this system must:
resources in proven interventions that result in people gaining and
maintaining housing at the least cost possible
outcome metrics to measure the impact of their investments and move their
funding as needed, even if it means no longer supporting historical
programs the community values and perceives as effective
Commit to a
systematic approach to providing assistance to all, and insist that it be
Leaders and advocates in
this system must:
Use data to
inform decisions and to make the case
message so that the purpose and goals of the system are well understood by
provider, clients, decision-makers and the public
funders at all levels use their homeless dedicated resources to end
for additional resources if needed only
after using all current resources
Clients in this system must
Be empowered to
make decisions in their own interest
Be given the
dignity to succeed without support, or with support if they choose
themselves as "homeless" and share responsibility for
maintaining their housing to the best of their ability
See our related
publication, Housing Crisis Resolution System
for a description of the needed components
and a crosswalk for how to get there.
Together we can end
works and must continue
• Single point of access for homeless families
at the new YWCA Family Center helps families find housing quickly.
• “One-shot” rent assistance has prevented
• Families leave for stable housing at higher
rates than before and are returning less often.
• Prevention assistance has decreased family
homelessness by 55%.
• Length of stay in emergency shelter is
• Families have experienced a significant drop
in income over time, with more families arriving with few benefits
and no income.
Single Adult Shelters
• Two new men’s shelters have been created
with improved living spaces and services.
• Homeless single adults who are intoxicated
have improved linkages to alcohol and drug treatment.
• Certification standards have resulted in
higher-quality facilities and services.
• Shelter locations are more evenly distributed
than at the start of Rebuilding Lives.
• Although demand for men’s shelter remained
flat after 2003, demand for women’s shelter has risen steadily
• There is no single point of entry allowing
persons seeking shelter to be matched with housing and services.
• The rate for exiting shelters for stable
housing is low.
• Many people could exit homelessness more
quickly if shelters helped people better secure income and
Homeless Outreach Programs
• People living outdoors have been assisted by
the new Critical Access to Housing program.
• On a single night in January 2007, 114 single
adults lived unprotected outdoors, despite efforts of nine
• The homeless outreach system is fragmented
among programs, causing duplication and gaps in coverage.
Permanent Supportive Housing
• Permanent supportive housing reduces the use
of shelters significantly.
• Permanent supportive housing programs have
increased the number and types of housing options.
• Programs increased income residents received
from employment and mainstream benefits.
• The cost of these programs is much lower than
costs for stays in prison or inpatient psychiatric hospital care.
• The current supply of supportive housing for
• Because permanent supportive housing is
scarce, many homeless people cannot leave emergency shelter.
• Current residents have no incentives to “move
up” to more independent housing.
• No coordinated system is in place for intake,
assessment, or referral to permanent supportive housing.
633,782 homeless in US
450,000 churches in US is 1.4
18,443 towns 34 homeless per town
BOSS programs provide whatever level of support people need and request
in order to build health, wellness, and self-sufficiency. Some people come
to BOSS for one-time or temporary assistance. Others with histories of
chronic homelessness and more serious challenges may engage in BOSS
services for longer periods of time. BOSS also provides specialized
programs for homeless children
BOSS also partners with other social justice and direct service
organizations to achieve shared goals.
The path to wellness is unique for each person. As long as participants
are working towards their goals, respect program rules, and respect those
around them, we continue to provide assistance and be part of their circle
If you are homeless, disabled, or low-income and looking for assistance,
please call (510) 843-3700, BOSS's Multi-Agency Service Center. It is open
7 days a week (call for hours) at 1931 Center Street in downtown Berkeley.
This program has information about all BOSS services and makes referrals
throughout the organization.
Supports and Services For
Homeless Families The Open Health Services and Policy Journal, 2010,
WHAT SERVICES AND SUPPORTS DO HOMELESS FAMILIES NEED? A NEW FRAMEWORK
All families need permanent housing and some mixture of services and
supports through the lifecycle. All of us are interdependent and cannot
survive in a society as complex as ours without the help and support of
others. Emerging evidence and clinical experience supports this view. For
example, a qualitative study using focus groups and survey questionnaire
in 10 sites, conducted by Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’
Network and the National Center on Family Homelessness, summarized this
view. Theyconcluded that "all programs serving homeless families and
children should provide a core group of support services central to
stabilizing families and improving their well being" . They
defined an array of critical services for the "overwhelming majority
of mothers and children," but also emphasized that these services
must be tailored to the family’s evolving needs . Without services,
many families will fall back into homelessness or remain isolated in
permanent housing . We are proposing the following framework as a way
of understanding the layers of supports and services critical to the lives
of homeless families and children.
The service needs of families who are homeless fall on a continuum,
best illustrated in the shape of a bell-shaped curve (see diagram, next
page). The typical or average homeless family – comprising approximately
80% of all homeless families – has ongoing support and service needs
that may wax and wane over time; may be episodic in nature; and will vary
in intensity with life circumstances, transitions, and stressors. However,
overall this indicates the need for ongoing supports and some level of
services over the family's lifetime. This paradigm is not so different
from the lives of many middle-income families, many of whom access
supports and services such as counselors, specialized
health care, and educational resources in raising theirchildren.
On either side of the bell curve are a small number offamilies – on
the left perhaps 10% who need only basicservices and transitional
supports. By contrast, on the rightside of the curve, another 10% of
families need lifetimeincome supports and high levels of intensive
services inorder to maintain their families in permanent housing (Fig.
In sum, 90% of families experiencing homelessness – those in Tiers 2
and 3 – need some ongoing infusion of supports and services. As
previously described, this is no different than the needs of families from
other socioeconomic groups, except that many of these families have a
larger economic and social margin that helps to facilitate these
connections and ensures access, availability and robustness of support
networks and services. For example, in a middle class family, it is less
likely that expending resources on a medical illness of a family member
will destabilize the family.
The 10%-80%-10% breakdown corresponds to three tiers of services.
All families regardless of their socioeconomic status, need the
following basic combination of supports and services to survive and
maintain their families:
• Affordable permanent housing. Housing has been described as
"the foundation of family life," from which safety, stability,
self-worth, health and well-being stem . To raise their children and
participate in the economic and social community, families must live in
affordable, permanent housing that is safe and stable.
• Jobs that pay a livable wage. To keep a family secure, household
wage earners must earn enough income to cover basic expenses such as
housing, food, utilities, health care, and child care.
• Child care. Child care is a major expense for most American
families, and for families living in poverty, it is essential but often
unattainable . Without child care, mothers with young children cannot
work. Many homeless mothers do not have extended families to count on and
must depend on child care vouchers. Researchers examining welfare
recipients’ entrance into the workforce have found that access to child
care facilitates this transition and that regular child care arrangements
are associated with greater job stability and retention .
• Health care. Families experiencing homelessness often have
significant health complications (e.g.,asthma, hypertension,
developmentally delays, mental health issues such as depression or
anxiety), and these health conditions may have contributed to their
homelessness. More than one in three low-income parents without insurance
spent less on food, heat, or other basic needs in order to pay for health
care in2005 [31, 37]. Seven out of 10 households
experiencing foreclosure state that it is due to medical disruptions
and expenses .
• Transportation. Employers report that transportation is a major
barrier to retaining former welfare recipients, or even hiring them in the
first place. Transportation is also essential for parents to bring their
children to and from child care/school, maintain social supports, and buy
groceries and other household items .
• Basic services for children. These include opportunities such as:
attending developmental day care, succeeding in school, engaging in
creative play in safe environments, access to after school activities, and
receiving health care.
Finding affordable housing and accessing basic mainstream services and
supports can be a challenging task, especially when a family is homeless
and stressed. To accomplish this, "transitional supports" are
critical. As we were reminded after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, where 2.5
million people were displaced, the loss of a home and eventual relocation
are extremely stressful, traumatic events. The road back home is often a
bumpy one, with many unexpected twists and turns. We know from this and
other disasters that years later many people have had difficulty
restarting their lives.
Furthermore, homelessness is a life altering experience, which can have
profound, long-term impact on family members. The hallmark of homelessness
is not only the loss of ones home, but disconnection from neighborhoods,
community, reassuring routines, belongings, relationships, safety, and
security. Sociologist Kai Erikson  writes that homelessness is:
"…the outer envelope of personhood. People need location almost
as much as they need shelter, for a sense of place is one of the ways they
connect to the larger human community. You cannot have a neighbor (or be
one) unless you are situated yourself. You cannot be counted a townsperson
unless you have an address. You cannot be a member unless you are grounded
somewhere in communal space. That is the geography of the self…then, to
be homeless is to live on the outer edges of the human circle, if not to
be excluded from it altogether – to be of another kind, maybe even of
another species." 
Transitional supports bridge the gap between shelters and the
community, prevent recurrent homelessness, and ensure community
integration. The goal of transitional services is to reconnect people
experiencing homelessness to community resources, services and supports.
Supports should be mobilized when a family is homeless and remain in place
until the family is fully connected to community supports and services.
The goal is to support connection to natural supports as well as more
formal mainstream services and supports when necessary and to prevent
Critical time intervention (CTI) is one way to provide the transitional
supports needed by homeless people. CTI is an evidence-based practice (see
www.nrepp.samhsa.gov)originally designed to bridge the gap in services for
adults with severe mental illness and homelessness as they moved from
institutions to the community, a critical transition when people are most
likely to drop out of housing . It is based on the premise that
individuals are more likely to maintain stable housing if they are
connected to critical supports and services. This nine-month intervention
begins in the shelters and continues through stabilization in the
community. It has three phases: 1)Transition to Community that allows
clients and case managers to jointly formulate a treatment plan and
connect to services while still in shelter; 2) Try-Out that involves
assessing, testing and adjusting systems of community support; and 3)
Transfer of Care that fine tunes the community support network to ensure
stable, long-term linkages. Originally developed for homeless individuals
experiencing mental illness, it has recently been adapted for use with
homeless families as part of the Second Chance Families Program-CTI for
Young Families .
In sum, all families experiencing homelessness need some level of
supports and services to successfully transition
out of homelessness. A small subgroup of families – roughly 10% –
will fare extremely well with this modest package of supports and
services. This subgroup will find jobs that pay livable wages, and have
flexible hours and benefits. They will have child care (often from
extended family) and adequate transportation. Most importantly, their
children will be faring well and have no special medical, developmental,
behavioral, or academic issues. Once they transition out of homelessness,
they are connected to natural supports and may not need specialized
Most homeless families – approximately 80% – fall into the second
tier of services and supports. These families must have all the supports
and services described in Tier 1
additional ongoing services. The need for these
services is likely to change over time. Some may be needed only for the
short-term, others episodically, while still others over a lifetime. The
intensity and duration of these services may also wax and wane. As
discussed earlier, this is the normative situation – the one that
applies to most homeless families and to most families overall. Think of
your own family and their changing needs over time. Everyone’s family at
one time or another has variable medical needs. Others may have children
with special learning,developmental or behavioral needs. Many families
have members struggling with complicated emotional health issues. Most
families also require supports to help them through difficult transitions
such as divorce, pregnancy and birth of a child, and support for aging
parents. Services needed may be of varying levels, intensity, and
duration, and may wax and wane over time.
For families experiencing homelessness, the array ofspecialized
services needed, in addition to those listed in Tier 1, may include:
1. Education and Job Opportunities
Education and jobs are critical levers for ensuring self-support. More
than half of homeless mothers lack a high school education, which
translates into low-paying jobs. In 2005, people with high school diplomas
earned an average of $10,000 more than those without ($19,915
$29,448) . Most homeless or formerly homeless
mothers work in minimum wage service sector entry level jobs with a mean
income 46% below the poverty line. To become self-supporting they must get
a GED or high school diploma and find jobs that keep pace with housing
2. Services for Traumatic Stress and Mental Health
There has been a long debate in the homelessness field about the
relationship of mental health and homelessness and the rightful concern
that focusing on emotional issues labels and dehumanizes people, and
blames the victim.
Mental health problems "are one of the greatest public health
challenges in contemporary medicine" . Not only are they
extremely common and protracted, but they account for untold suffering.
Many of these disorders lurk below the horizon, affecting daily
functioning, relationships, and work. As discussed above, many homeless
mothers are dealing with post traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.
They may medicate their distress with substances. PTSD and depression are
common and can be effectively treated. The
pathways to healing and recovery are numerous. With the emergence of a
myriad of evidence-based practices in this area, families and children can
benefit significantly (see www.nrepp.samhsa.gov). Without appropriate
supports, the outcomes and the impact on families and children can be
3. Family Supports
The high prevalence of separations of homeless children from their
parents has been well documented and ranges from 18-44 percent in all
families. Factors contributing to these separations include: social
service and child welfare policies, abuse and neglect, shelter eligibility
criteria, and parental efforts to protect their children from the
experience of homelessness .
For families with children in the foster care system, programs such as
the Family Unification Program (FUP), signed into law in 1990, help them
reunite. Through partnerships with local public housing authorities and
child welfare agencies, FUP provides families with Section 8 housing
subsidies and the supportive services necessary to reunite with their
children who would otherwise linger needlessly in foster care .
Many families experiencing homelessness are headed by a single parent,
and as such, face unique challenges. These families may benefit from
parenting supports and resources. One example of the impact of that these
supports can have is currently being documented through the Strengthening
At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative, a multi-site
demonstration project that supports locally-based partnerships that
include housing/homelessness, child development agencies, as well as those
that address family preservation, domestic violence, mental health,
substance use, and other support services. In year one of the evaluation,
researchers have noted that clients feel that they have become better
parents through skills learned while in the program and that they have
seen positive changes in their children (e.g., developmental, emotional,
Home visiting is another example of services that support families and
children experiencing homelessness. By meeting families where they are
currently living, whether it is in shelter, transitional housing, or other
temporary settings, home visiting provides continuous services and reduces
barriers to care. Intervening early can help mitigate some of the physical
and emotional health issues associated with homelessness, resulting in
better long-term outcomes . One-on-one services are provided in a
family’s home, giving families critical support and allowing for early
detection of problems . Parents are taught skills that enable them to
be more confident and to provide supportive home environments for their
children . Several programs across the country use home visiting
programs with families experiencing homelessness [47, 50-53]. These
programs have found that home visiting helps reduce many of the negative
impacts of homelessness and prepares children for school, strengthens the
parent-child bond, and decreases maternal isolation.
4. Services for Children
Because their parents often have complicated and intense needs,
children experiencing homelessness are often
overlooked. Children are not just "along for the ride." They
have experienced stresses similar to their parents, butthrough the lens of
childhood. They have fewer coping skills to understand what has happened
to them, and their fear and anxiety may manifest in various mental health,
behavioral, and medical complications.
In addition to the services described in Tier 1, children who
experience homelessness may also need access to quality mental health
screening and treatment, attention to special physical and/or
developmental health needs, special educational services, and more.
To summarize Tier 2, approximately 80% of all homeless families need an
array of supports and specialized services that are flexibly provided and
can respond to their changing needs over the lifecycle.
The final 10% of families require income supports as well as lifelong
ongoing, often intensive, services and supports in order to maintain their
families in housing and ensure the well being of all family members. Many
of these families have a member with some combination of a serious
medical, mental health and substance use problem. For example, a family
with a child who has autism will require ongoing supports and specialized
services as the child grows. Serious medical problems, such as autism, may
dominate and drive the family experience.
The Tier system proposed in this paper provides a framework for
designing services and supports for families without homes. Future
research must articulate clear definitions of services and supports. Few
studies describe services clearly or specify what works for whom, in what
settings, and with what intensity, duration and outcomes. What is meant by
"case management" or "advocacy"? Further investigation
into these questions will inform efforts to support vulnerable families
and help to end homelessness.
At the heart of this discussion is the unanswered question of whether
homeless families are fundamentally different than extremely poor low
income families. Empirical research has not yet conclusively answered this
question. However, we do know that there is at least one dramatic
difference between these groups. Families experiencing homelessness have
lost their homes – an experience that is profound and life-altering. We
know from extensive studies of various natural disasters such as the
extensively studied 1972 Buffalo Creek Disaster in West Virginia when 16
coal mining communities were destroyed after a dam broke. Years later,
people were still suffering from the aftermath and had not been able to
reintegrate into community life or rebuild their communities.
More recently, we have seen the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Four years later, communities are still reeling and hundreds of thousands
of people are having difficulty restarting their lives. Homelessness is
like the hurricane or the breaking of the dam in Buffalo Creek. It is
devastating for a mother to be unable to protect her children and
devastating to children to lose their homes.
The rigid adherence to the belief that most families can "go it
alone" and become self-sufficient is embedded in our culture. The
deeply held American belief of rugged individualism emerges from another
era – when the frontier and American West were being settled. As our
country has grown into a global economy we are beset by complex
interdependencies. The Horatio Alger myth that hard work and virtue will
ensure success is also no longer true. To survive in this complex world we
must depend on each other. With this in mind, we believe that the notion
of self-sufficiency should be discarded in favor of economic self-support.
We should each take a closer look at what all American families require to
survive and thrive. As part of this picture, we must recognize the
pervasiveness of traumatic stress and its mental health consequences in
the lives of families and children experiencing homelessness – and
provide the supports and services people need for recovery and healing.
This recognition in no way blames the victim, but rather identifies real
needs and commands our nation to respond. Only by acknowledging the
critical place of services and supports in the lives of almost all
American families – and their connection to permanent housing-- can we
address the issue of family homelessness adequately.
Despite Connecticut’s great wealth, one in ten children
lives in poverty.
Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation,
which compounded with its highly skilled workforce, makes the cost of
living very high.
The state was
one of three states in the nation with the highest median household income
Child poverty in Connecticut has not improved in recent
years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:
2007, 10.6% of Connecticut children under 18 (85,530 children) lived in a
family with income below the Federal Poverty Level ($21.027 for a
two-parent family with two children).
This data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American
Community Survey (ACS) represents no improvement from the 2004 level
in four (25.1%) Connecticut children lived in a household with income
below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in 2007.4
Poverty in Connecticut is concentrated in urban areas.
Children living in poverty are unevenly distributed across
Connecticut’s 169 towns. While 38 towns had child poverty rates of less
than 2% in the 2000 Census, seven towns had a rate above 23%, led by
In 2007, the state’s largest cities had extremely high
child poverty rates -- Hartford (47.0%), Waterbury (31.4%), New Haven
(28.7%) and Bridgeport (28.4%).
Most low-income families are working families.
Three-quarters (76%) of Connecticut’s poor families with
a parent able to work have a parent in the workforce (2003 data).
Employment is not adequate to lift these working families out of poverty.
19.1% of Connecticut workers did not earn enough to generate an income
that meets the federal poverty threshold for a family of four, the highest
rate since 1998.8
THE TWO CONNECTICUTS
The gap between high-wage and low-wage workers is growing.
From 1989 to 2007, the ratio of Connecticut workers’
wages at the 90th percentile to the wages of workers at the 10th
percentile rose from three and a half times to almost five times. This gap
the seventh highest in the country, and contributes to
much wider gaps in total income and wealth.
Minority children are more likely to live in poverty.
In 2005, Latino/Hispanic and African American children in
Connecticut were seven times more likely to live in poverty than white,
Poor children start from behind because they lack access
to good preschools.
Children growing up poor in Connecticut perform on
educational tests at a much lower level than do higher-income children.
The 2007 Nation’s Report Card indicates that Connecticut has some of the
largest achievement gaps in the nation between students from low- and
high-income families. In reading, less than one in seven (13%) of
Connecticut’s low-income fourth grade students met the proficiency
standard, compared with 53% of children from higher-income families.
An estimated 8,700 children in Connecticut’s
lowest-income school districts (Priority School Districts) are in need of
a quality preschool program.
The lack of quality early education can have a significant
impact on children’s readiness for school and their potential for
lifelong educational and work success. In a survey of kindergarten
teachers in low-income school districts in Connecticut:
of children who did not attend preschool arrived at kindergarten lacking
basic language and literacy skills such as being able to use complete
sentences, to respond when spoken to, to identify their name in print, or
to recognize the first ten letters of the alphabet; •
children who did not attend preschool were unable to perform basic math
tasks such as recognizing numbers, counting to ten or drawing basic
shapes; and • 65%
of the teachers identified specific health problems such as asthma, skin
rashes, ringworm and lack of physical exams. Nearly one-fifth of the
teachers observed children who come to school hungry, tired and unkempt.
ECONOMIC, WORKFORCE COSTS OF POVERTY
Lost future productivity from poverty: a
half-trillion-dollar loss for the nation.
The costs to the United States associated with child
poverty total about $500 billion per year in foregone earnings and
productivity, high crime rates and poor health associated with adults who
grew up in poor households, according to a 2007 analysis by researchers
from Georgetown University, the University of Chicago and Northwestern
University. The nation could raise its overall consumption of goods and
services and its quality of life by a half trillion dollars a year if
childhood poverty were eliminated.
Each year that a child spends in poverty results in a cost
of $11,800 in lost future productivity over his or her working life. The
United States labor force will lose an estimated $137 billion in future
economic output for every year that more than 12 million poor children
grow up to be less productive and effective workers.
Since 85,530 (10.6%) of Connecticut’s children live in
poverty, the Connecticut labor force is projected to lose over $1 billion
in future productive capacity for every year that this number of
Connecticut children live in poverty.
Widespread illiteracy hurts business community
The inability of young people to read as they move into
adulthood has a negative fiscal impact on businesses. In 2003, more than
240,000 adults in Connecticut – or 9 percent of those 16 and older –
lacked even basic reading skills.
Approximately 300,000 Greater Hartford area adults, or
roughly 41% of the adult population, are functioning below the literacy
level required to earn a living wage.
billion nationally is lost in productivity each year by American
businesses due to employees’ lack of basic skills.19
January 15, 2009
Child Poverty Council. (2005, Jan.) Initial
Hartford, CT: Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.
A., & Semega, J. (2008, Aug.). Income,
Earnings, and Poverty Data From the 2007 American Community Survey,
4. U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Reports,
ACS-08. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Census Bureau, American Community Survey. Tables C17006 (2007) and B17006
John Kort died in an Anchorage homeless shelter on New Year’s Day, the
news spread faster than one might’ve expected. Kort wasn’t the victim
of a fascinating crime and – at least from what I can tell – he
wasn’t famous. So why was the Associated
Press story about his death headline-worthy for ABC,
Fox News, Salon and others?
death marked the first at a controversial new homeless shelter that opened
last fall in Anchorage, Ala. It’s called Karluk Manor and it’s rare
because it’s a "wet shelter" – meaning there is no policy
against drinking on premises.
alcoholism is often seen as a path toward homelessness, so typical
homeless shelters don’t allow drinking inside. And it’s for that
reason, according to Cadillac Man ("Northern Queens’s most famous
homeless person" who wrote the book Land
of the Lost Souls about his journeys) that make homeless
shelters a last resort for folks on the street.
of us would rather take our chances outside," he told me earlier this
week. "I wish there were more [homeless shelters] that would just
leave you alone."
at Karluk will, in some ways, leave its tenants alone.
is part of a "housing first" movement for the homeless that
debuted in 2005 at a similar project called 1811 Eastlake in Seattle.
Sobriety is not a requirement there.
York Times profile about Eastlake
summarized the arguments against it by quoting a conservative Seattle
radio talk show host, John Carlson, who said it amounted to "Bunks
for drunks," or "a living monument to failed social policy"
that is "aiding and abetting someone's self-destruction."
for Eastlake argued the opposite. It’s easier to get sober inside rather
than on the street and, according to John Meyers, director of the
Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Seattle office, who spoke
to the Times, "It's a lot cheaper having them spend the night
at 1811 than at the E.R. or at the drunk tank."
arguments in Anchorage are a little different. Complaints don’t focus as
much on the shelter’s approach to alcoholism as they focus on its
is based in a former Red Roof Inn that sits in a relatively congested part
of Anchorage next to a thriving seafood company, Copper River Seafoods.
had a car broken into, and property stolen from a woman who works in our
accounting office," Copper River’s Vice President, Robin
Alaska television station KTVA 11. "We've had
people who have come in here who are inebriated, who we've offered to help
out, offered to provide cabs, and then they've become belligerent. We've
had people sleeping in our parking lot, people who are next to our cars,
that kind of thing. And we're quite concerned about the safety of our
editorial in the Anchorage Daily News doesn’t directly dismiss
this complaint but says it’s not what’s ultimately important. "If
Karluk Manor, the motel for chronic alcoholics, means nothing more than
death in a warm bed, then it's still an act of kindness and humanity,”
the editorial reads.
Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless,
agrees with the Daily News and says one death shouldn’t turn
people off the idea of a wet shelter.
isn’t a party house,” he told me earlier this week. "Wet in this
case refers to the fact that [tenants] can consume alcohol in spite of the
fact that they declare to be an alcoholic. They’re there getting served
but the understanding is that they can consume alcohol in the process of
idea is that this type of home is designed to be transitional, he says.
“They can get ready when they’re ready – inside rather than on the
says the alternative amounts to blackmail.
bar a person from a shelter as a way to pressure them to get
treatment," he says. "If you’re sick, your judgment is skewed.
And you’re taking advice from some punk just out of college who tells
you that you need to stop drinking. Do you think that’s going to be a
Hobson, who runs 1811 Eastlake, elaborates.
are dealing with a unique subset of individuals here,” he says.
"These are late stage, chronic alcoholics, normally 45 and older with
a minimum of 15 years of street alcohol addiction. They’ve lost
everything -- families, job, housing. And so they’re transacting their
addiction in public spaces."
the street, Hobson says, "these people have a 5 percent chance of
survival." And furthermore, he says, when they’re out on the
street, these folks end up in the emergency room, get picked up by police
and often end up in jail, costing taxpayers money. He points to an April
2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that
says the chronically alcoholic homeless people cost the city of Seattle
two-thirds less housed in Eastlake than they do out on the street.
says administrators at Karluk asked him and others at Eastlake for advice
before they opened the facility in Anchorage. And Hobson warned them:
“people are going to die in your program. These people are medically
fragile. So be prepared for it.”
says 1811 lost eight people its first year. Since then, he says between 30
and 40 have died in the program.
at least they’re dying on a warm bed rather than in the street," he
Thirty yearsago there wasnotwide-spreadhomelessnessinAmerica.Tonightnearly
a millionpeoplewillbehomeless,despite a twobilliondollar
to dealwith the problem.Canhomelessnessbeended?
Whilethe seedsofhomelessnesswereplanted inthe1960sand1970swithdeinstitutionalization of
mentally ill people and loss of
affordable housingstock,wide-spreadhomelessness didnot emerge untilthe
factorshaveaffected its growth over the
last two decades.Housing
has become scarcerforthose with
andfrombenefits have notkept pace withthe
cost ofhousing for lowincome
and poorpeople.Servicesthat every familyneeds for support andstability
have becomeharder for verypoor
people to affordor find.
In addition tothese systemic
problems ofmanypoor Americans,leading tothemto
to homelessness.These social trends haveincluded newkindsofillegaldrugs,moresingleparentand teen-headed householdswithlowearningpower,and
These causes ofhomelessnessmust be addressed.People whoare
homelessmustbe helped,and the
currentsystemdoesthisreasonably well formany ofthose whobecome homeless.But the
people from becominghomeless
nor change the overallavailabilityofhousing, income
and services that will truly
socialprograms,on the otherhand, dohavethe abilitytopreventand endhomelessness.Theseareprograms
care, substance abuse treatment,veteransassistance and so on.Theseprograms,
however,areover-subscribed.Perversely, the veryexistenceof thehomelessassistance systemencouragesthesemainstreamsystemstoshiftthecost
and responsibility forhelping
the most vulnerable people tothe
dysfunctionalsituation is becoming more
The Board ofDirectors
ofthe NationalAlliance toEnd Homelessnessbelievesthat,infact,endinghomelessnessiswellwithinthenation’sgrasp.Wecanreversetheincentivesinmainstream systems so thatrather than causinghomelessness,
they arepreventingit.Andwe can makethe homelessassistancesystemmoreoutcome-drivenbytailoringsolution-orientedapproaches more directly
ofthevarious sub-populations of
this way,homelessness canbeendedwithin ten years.
TodaymostAmericancommunities plan how to managehomelessness
– nothowto end it.Infact,new datahas shown that mostlocalities
peoplemuchmoreeffectivelyby changingthemixofassistancetheyprovide.Afirst step
in accomplishing this
is tocollectmuch betterdataat thelocallevel.A second step isto create aplanning processthat focuses on theoutcomeof ending
homelessness – and then
brings tothetablenot just thehomeless assistanceproviders,but the mainstream
stateand localagencies andorganizationswhoseclientsarehomeless.
Thehomeless assistancesystem ends homelessness forthousandsof
they arequicklyreplacedbyothers.Peoplewhobecomehomelessare almost always clients of
of care and assistance.Theseincludethe mentalhealth system,thepublichealthsystem,the welfaresystem,and the
as well asthe
criminal justice andthe
service systems (includingfoster
more effective thehomeless assistance system
is in caring for people, the
less incentive theseother
systems have todeal
with the most troubled people – and
the moreincentivethey have to
shift the cost ofserving
This situation mustbereversed.Theflow
ofincentivescan favor helping thepeople with the most complexproblems.As in many
other social areas,investmentinpreventionholdsthepromiseofsavingmoneyonexpensivesystemsofremedialcare.
homelessenter and exithomelessness relativelyquickly.Althoughthereis a housingshortage,
they accommodate this shortageand find housing.There is
a much smallergroupofpeoplewhichspendsmoretimein
group – the majorityof
whom are chronicallyhomeless
and chronicallyill – virtually
livesin the shelter systemand
is a heavyuser
of other expensive public systems suchas
hospitals and jails.
shouldbehelped to exithomelessness asquicklyaspossible
throughahousingfirstapproach.Forthechronicallyhomeless,thismeanspermanentsupportivehousing(housingwithservices)–asolutionthatwillsavemoneyasit reduces the
use of otherpublic systems.For familiesand lessdisabled
should not spend yearsinhomeless
Whilethe systems canbe changed to
ofhomelessness,ultimatelypeople willcontinue tobethreatenedwithinstability until thesupplyof affordable housingis increased;incomes ofthepoorare adequate to pay
for necessitiessuch as food,shelterandhealthcare;
and disadvantagedpeople can
receive the servicestheyneed.Attemptstochange
with thecontext oflargerefforts
tohelp verypoor people.
I-PLUS assists chronically homeless individuals who
qualify for government disability benefits to obtain and keep housing,
seek treatment and become financially responsible. Following referrals
from treatment providers, we act as the clients’ payee, disbursing
government financial assistance to assure their
basic needs and treatment if received. The result is an
optimal, positive and cost effective application of disability benefits
which improve the quality of life for the individual client as well as the
community at large.
Providing a systematic solution to reducing homelessness,
improving quality of life, and putting money back into the community
I-PLUS (Independent Positive Living Under Supervision) is an
organization that assists chronically homeless individuals who qualify
for government disability benefits to obtain and keep housing, seek
treatment and become financially responsible.
Through victimization and financial mismanagement, disabled
individuals too often fall into a cycle of homelessness, substance
abuse, crime, and hospitalization. I-PLUS offers a solution to
this cycle by acting as the client’s representative payee and together
with treatment providers, disburse government financial assistance to
assure clients’ basic needs and treatment. The result is a
positive, cost-effective application of government disability benefits
which improves the quality of life for the individual client as well as
the community at large.
Government disability assistance is used directly for housing, food,
and other basic needs and put back into the community rather than
mismanaged or extorted by others taking advantage of the disabled
individuals. By providing stable housing, the burden and cost to
society through shelters and soup kitchens, courts and jails, and
hospitalization can be greatly reduced, more than $35,000 annually per
You can make a difference. Please help us change the lives of
chronically disabled. Donate TODAY.
* [Footnote from Department of Veteran Affairs Study, 2004 and
Department of Human Services, 1999]
All I-PLUS clients have long histories of chronic homelessness
due to mental illness, drug/alcohol addictions, family dysfunction,
violence, and unemployment. Clients are referred to I-PLUS by the Veterans
Administration Hospital, the Lake County Court, and other local service
agencies such as, PADS Crisis Services, Catholic Charities, and the
Each client’s monthly benefit check is deposited
into their own local bank account, arranged by I-PLUS. By working with
local merchants, I-PLUS arranges housing, pays rents, pays utilities, and
pays other fixed costs directly to the providers on behalf of each Client.
Each client must pick up their checks, weekly, at the I-PLUS office.
When clients pick up their weekly check, they are often required to attend
an AA meeting, a NA meeting, and/or receive one-on-one counseling.
During a typical month, I-PLUS manages more than
$100,000 for a client load of 135. Half of these clients are
During a typical month, more than $100,000 is managed through a
local bank. This money is used to benefit a client load of
approximately 135 people. Over half of these people are veterans.
I-PLUS was founded in 1995 by a group of Lake County
residents who realized that many of the chronically homeless individuals
in community shelters were also receiving money through government
benefits. Without motivation to make lifestyle changes, these
homeless individuals continued in a cycle of financial victimization by
drug dealers and others. As a result, these residents relied on
overnight emergency shelters as housing. This cycle was never-ending.
A group of committed people decided this cycle must
end. Thus, I-PLUS was formed. I-PLUS is set up to be more than
just another provider of shelter. In a controversial move, I-PLUS
assumed financial control of some chronically, local, homeless people’s
benefit checks. The executive director then set up partnerships with
case managers and treatment providers to ensure that the beneficiaries
were in control of their financial resources, as well as choosing to
participate in a treatment plan. Over the course of several years, I-PLUS
won the respect of the community. It evolved from eight clients,
receiving disbursements directly from case managers and volunteers, to
over 400 clients, receiving disbursements from I-PLUS volunteers who rely
on a computerized banking system. To date, over half of I-PLUS’ clients
I-PLUS serves Lake County, Cook County, McHenry County, and
Kenosha (Wisconsin). Offices are located on the campus of
the Lovell Federal Healthcare Center (VA). Because the Lake County
homeless population is 40% veteran, I-PLUS moved to the VA campus in
July 2005. The move enabled I-PLUS to work with treatment teams to
stabilize veterans when they return to the community. The I-PLUS offices
are accessible to all persons who qualify.
A VA sponsored research study found that I-PLUS is beneficial
to homeless clients in the following ways: It provides
residential stability, it reduces substance abuse, it improves money
management, it reduces days of hospitalization, it improves health-related
living habits, and it improves quality of life.
The clients’ resulting behavior changes enable them
to have increased life stability. This stability becomes habitual
and permanent over time. A client with his/her own home has
increased self-confidence, an increased a sense of self-worth, and
experiences higher quality living. Higher quality living is often
something a client has never before experienced.
Each year, I-PLUS saves the government and community $40,000
per client. Without I-PLUS, this money would be spent on
hospitalization, shelters, soup kitchens, courts, jails, theft, and other
Brian Donovan Joe
Patricia Lynch, Executive Director
Pat has more than 20 years of experience working with the I-PLUS client
population as executive director. Prior to this position, she served as a
supervisor of emergency services for Catholic Charities. Pat co-founded
the Catholic Charities Women’s Board in 1990 and Habitat for Humanity
Lake County in 1992. She also co-founded the School of St. Mary’s
Parents’ Club in Lake Forest and was a founding member of the Lake
County Coalition for the Homeless, established in 1989. She has served on
the board of the CASA Lake County and on various other civic committees.
Pat received her B.A. in sociology from Barat College in 1988.
Kim Jones, Program Director Kim has more than 12 years of experience working with I-PLUS.
Prior to joining I-PLUS, she worked as an insurance risk manager for the
City of Waukegan for 16 years. Kim received her B.A. in Spanish from the
University of Pittsburgh in 1971. She is also fluent in Spanish.
Elizabeth Miller, Bookkeeper Liz began working for I-PLUS over five years ago. From
1986-1996 she worked as a bookkeeper for Plasti-Flo. Liz also has a
real estate license.
Felicia Holland, Program Advocate Felicia began working at I-PLUS in February 2011. Prior to
joining the I-PLUS staff, she spent 10 years working as a trademark
administrator for Cardinal Health. Felicia obtained her paralegal
certificate from Roosevelt University in 1989.
Hope Hender Hart, Administrative Assistant Hope is the newest member of the I-PLUS staff, joining the team
in February 2012. Prior to joining the I-PLUS staff, Hope taught
English and journalism at Riverside Brookfield High School in Riverside,
IL for 11 years. She has a B.A. in English and journalism from
Indiana University, Bloomington (1992), and a M.S. from IU in Secondary
Education, Curriculum and Instruction (1995).
Volunteers are crucial to the success of I-PLUS.
A separate group of volunteers provides expertise in budgeting,
accounting, banking, marketing, spreadsheet management, and human
services. Qualified I-PLUS volunteers meet weekly.
I-PLUS volunteer training includes an initial
orientation program and ongoing supervision. Both staff and
volunteers attend appropriate workshops and in-service programs.
I-PLUS’ executive director conducts an annual performance evaluation for
staff and volunteers. She is evaluated by the I-PLUS Board of
Directors on a semi-annual basis.
Why does Portland need a
campground for homeless people? How would a camp like this benefit the
community? Why should the city of Portland support such an effort?
Businesses downtown complain
about homeless people urinating in their doorways. Visitors complain about
homeless people panhandling them. Neighbors complain about homeless people
causing them fear of crime. Parents complain that homeless people scare
their children. Library patrons complain that homeless people smell bad.
Neighborhood associations complain that services for homeless people
attract more homeless people to their neighborhoods. Grocers complain that
homeless people steal their carts. What can be done? How to relieve these
A campground would provide a
safe haven to homeless people. Somewhere they can sleep without
interfering in the operation of business downtown. Somewhere they can be
safe from the drug dealers and crime scene rather than being confused with
this criminal crowd. Somewhere they can use a sanitary restroom or get
clean to look for housing and employment. Somewhere they can receive mail
and phone messages from landlords and employers. Somewhere they can
hook-up with service providers, outreach workers, and medical assistance.
Somewhere they can store their belongings, prepare healthy meals, network
with others looking for work and housing. A campground would solve a host
of problems from relieving health issues, providing safety and resources,
to giving service providers a good central location to hook-up with those
most in need of their services.
Currently it is illegal to
be homeless in Portland. The basic human necessities of living have been
criminalized for nineteen years now. An anti-camping ordinance makes it
illegal to sleep anywhere outside, including on public property.
Loitering, trespassing, exclusions, and other laws are also being used to
keep homeless people on the move. Yet, homeless people have nowhere else
to go. Most homeless people in Portland originated from neighborhoods here
and desire to remain here, near their family, friends, and other support
networks. It is neither practical nor moral to expect homeless people to
give up their communities and go elsewhere. Even if they could, other
communities don't want homeless people either.
The numbers of homeless
people, especially youth and families, has been growing despite the
so-called economic boom. Businesses, property owners, and local police
have been frustrated and overwhelmed by the problems homelessness poses
for them. People sleep in doorways, under bridges and overpasses, hidden
on porches and in backyards. Public restrooms are few and far between and
are open for only limited hours, creating sanitation problems when
homeless people are forced to use alleys and doorways for relieving
themselves. Lack of protection from the weather and unsanitary conditions
leads to disease and infections for homeless people, many of them without
healthinsurance to pay for care. Lac of access to storage facilities for
clothes, medical and hygiene items and other belongings complicates the
problems. A shortage of services such as shelters, medical services,
showers, laundry facilities, clothing and food make daily survival for
people without homes a difficult endeavor, at best.
Without stability, storage,
sleeping and sanitation facilities, homeless people are unable to find and
maintain employment, training, permanent housing, and the other things
they require to get back on their feet. This catch-22 perpetuates the
problems and is bad for everyone. To overcome the current crisis of
homelessness we need to accept the premise that for every human being, we
need to provide a basic minimal safety net for survival. Emergency
shelter, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, storage, phones and mail
for employer and landlord contacts, food, and clothing. Without these,
homeless persons cannot overcome their circumstances and get back on their
This is not to say that
camping should be our ideal for a bottom-line in housing. We are a wealthy
nation and there is no reason why every American should not be able to
have a decent, safe and warm home. But until we meet that goal, we need to
stop criminalizing homeless people and start providing a place where they
can legally and safely go to find--without a waiting list--without
difficult obstacles or requirements--a safe and sanitary place to survive.
Some people will argue that
a campground in the city of Portland is unsanitary and poses a health
hazard to the greater community. The lack of sanitation facilities in
public spaces is currently unsafe and is a health risk to
everyone--homeless and housed alike. Being forced to defecate and urinate
in public places for lack of facilities is dangerous to us all. A
campground with porta-potties or 24-hour public restroom access is the
Homeless people are often
accused of being drunks, drug-addicts, and criminals. Anyone living in
circumstances where their very lives are in immediate and constant
danger--anyone dealing with survival--anyone living in a war zone -- would
begin to steal, prostitute, or lie. Anyone dealing with survival in a war
zone might become mentally unstable, depressed, develop serious anxieties,
become violent, paranoid, or suicidal. Anyone dealing with survival in a
war zone might be tempted to seek temporary solace by numbing their mind
with alcohol or narcotics. Don't tell yourself lies. Living on the streets
is dangerous and homeless people know it and feel it every second they are
out there. Hitting the streets with nowhere to go is a violent traumatic
event that just keeps on going--but unlike the energizer bunny, it's not
pink, fuzzy, or cute. Despite these facts, most homeless people do not
become criminals or drug or alcohol users. On the streets, integrity,
dignity, privacy, and respect for one another are highly valued. People
without this strength of character don't hit the streets--they commit
The fact of the matter is
homeless people are the constant and unprotected victims of crime. Drug
dealers, sexual predators, thieves, and violent people prey on homeless
people day in and day out. Violent, hate-filled punks troll skid row
neighborhoods looking to beat up homeless people, set them on fire, and
harass them for mere entertainment. The police seldom take these reports
seriously, leaving homeless people to
fend for themselves.
"Poverty pimps" offer exorbitantly overpriced flophouses for the
night, check-cashing and loan shark businesses offer to relieve emergency
financial problems for exorbitant fees, immoral landlords charge high
application fees knowing full well they are going to turn down certain, if
hopeful, renters. The police issue a constant barrage of
"nuisance" tickets to homeless people in an attempt to harass
homeless people to move on, using tactics to intimidate homeless people
that violate the basic civil rights enjoyed by every other person in
Portland. The pressure on homeless people is enormous. What crime, drug
and alcohol use that is found in the homeless community should be no shock
Tent Cities Toolkit www.tentcitiestoolkit.org
Tough Job Market, employers are less likely to hire those out of the work
force for exteneded periods of time.
Physical, Mental/Behavioral, Dental
How Many People are Homeless
The statewide data from the 2007 Point-In-Time Count provides us with an
updated baseline number of the homeless population in Connecticut. It is
estimated that at any one point in time, close to 4,000 people are
homeless in Connecticut. In 2001, over 33,000 people, including 13,000
children, experienced homelessness over the course of a year.
Most persons who are homeless do not
live on the streets. Many individuals, and especially homeless families,
are hidden from our view – they live doubled up in apartments or in
emergency shelters or transitional housing, which do a good job of keeping
them “off of the streets.”
What Causes Homelessness?
Some people experience homelessness because:
High housing costs consume too much, more than 30%, of their individual or
They have a low income or they are
unemployed, working at a low-wage job, or underemployed.
They or someone in their family
suffer from chronic mental illness or substance abuse or have a physical
disability or chronic illness such as HIV/AIDS. These individuals and
families often experience long-term, chronic homelessness and are best
served by supportive housing.
An unexpected event triggers a
downward spiral – the loss of a job, injury or illness, the loss of a
spouse. For someone with very low income, even a car breakdown, which
would be just an inconvenience for some of us, could lead to the loss of a
job and put a person at risk of homelessness.
What are the Solutions to
For long-term homelessness, we know what works – supportive housing.
Supportive housing combines affordable apartments with on-site or visiting
support and employment services. Supportive housing provides a permanent,
independent and affordable solution to the problem of homelessness. We
currently have over 3000 units across the state but we need 7000 more to
reach our goal of 10,000 units to end long-term homelessness.
Affordable housing is also key to
ending homelessness for families. Many families experience an episode of
homelessness primarily because of financial reasons. By increasing the
supply of affordable housing through new construction and rehabilitation
of older housing, families with low incomes would be able to find housing
units they can afford.
Other solutions to homelessness
include increasing the availability of rental subsidies such as Section 8
certificates or State Rental Assistance Program vouchers; preserving the
safety net of social services; and providing adequate discharge planning
from prisons, hospitals and other institutions.
Everything in this Guide is based upon a
set of underlying principles for good homelessness prevention services.
These basic principles should influence every aspect of program design and
Principle 1: Crisis resolution
Every situation that could result in
homelessness is a crisis for the person experiencing it. Crisis resolution
responses must include: rapid assessment and triaging, based upon urgency;
an instant focus on personal safety as the first priority; de-escalation
of the person’s emotional reaction; definite action steps the individual
can successfully achieve; assistance with actions the individual is
temporarily unable or unwilling to attempt; and returning the person to
control over their own problem-solving.
Principle 2: Client choice,
respect and empowerment
People in crisis may feel paralyzed by
the urgency and the potentially devastating consequences of their
situation. Homelessness prevention services must help people in crisis
regain a sense of control and feeling of empowerment to actively overcome
obstacles. A constant emphasis on the client’s goals, choices, and
preferences, an unwavering respect for their strengths, and reinforcement
of progress are essential for empowerment. This does not mean clients are
protected from the natural consequences of their actions.
Principle 3: Provide the minimum
assistance necessary for the shortest time possible
Respect includes “letting go” as soon
as the person has the resources, knowledge and tools to continue their
lives--however they choose to live them. Providing “just enough” to
prevent homelessness enables a program to help far more people in crisis.
Often this means ensuring resources are used to help persons at-risk of
losing housing of any kind—persons who would otherwise end up on the
street or in an emergency shelter—before using resources to provide
assistance for other needs. Providing non-essential assistance to a
program client will cost someone else in the community their housing.
Principle 4: Maximize community
Mainstream assistance programs are
intended to be the backbone of every community. Creating duplicate
services for a sub-population such as people at risk of homelessness
allows mainstream agencies to continue to bypass or ineffectively serve
people who have a right to better quality and access. Duplication also
wastes valuable, limited resources that could be spent to keep more
households from becoming homeless.
Principle 5: The right resources
to the right people at the right time
The earlier a program intervenes in a
housing crisis, the lower the cost. The outcomes may look impressive, but
research shows that most people who receive prevention assistance would
not have become homeless even without assistance. The later the
intervention, the more costly and the lower the success rate. But at the
latest stages of an individual’s housing crisis, it is virtually certain
she or he would have become homeless without assistance. Good prevention
programs strive to target people who have the highest risk of becoming
homeless but who also have a good chance of remaining housed if they
Greater Hartford Alliance to Prevent and End Homelessness
Greater Hartford Regional Alliance on Housing and Homelessness is leading
a regional effort to eliminate chronic homelessness and homelessness for
veterans within five years and to end homelessness for families, youth,
and children within ten years, and setting a path to end all forms of
homelessness. The Alliance coordinates the strategies of advocacy,
prevention, housing, employment, and services to ensure that episodes of
homelessness are rare and of short duration and that all citizens within
the region have access to safe, affordable housing. The Alliance includes
civic, religious, political, business, and not-for-profit leaders, in
addition to other stakeholders. The Region includes Hartford, Andover,
Avon, Bloomfield, Bolton, Canton, East Granby, East Hartford, East
Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Hebron,
Manchester, Marlborough, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, Somers, South
Windsor, Stafford, Suffield, Tolland, Vernon, West Hartford, Wethersfield,
Windsor, and Windsor Locks.
The Steering Committee
will develop, coordinate, and administer resources to end homelessness and
increase the stock of available and affordable housing in the Greater
Hartford Region. The steering committee will also be charged with
leadership and collaboration for all of the committees. The Steering
Committee shall be composed of Journey Home Staff, members of its 5
committees, and other regional representatives. Potential members will be
representatives from local shelter and housing agencies, The United Way,
the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Capitol Workforce Partners, the City of
Hartford, the Capitol Region Council of Governments, CCEH, HUD local
office, Capitol Region Council of Churches, Hartford Foundation for Public
Giving, Path East River group, Hartford Public Library, local healthcare
institutions, and a variety of other local, regional and statewide
Journey Home Staff:
Journey Home staff will
serve as catalysts and conveners for the actions of the Greater Hartford
Alliance to Prevent and End Homelessness. They will organize steering
committee meetings, and facilitate the dispersal of information to
Alliance members. They will serve as a resource for all committee chairs
and will initiate research into best practices from around the nation.
Balance of State:
The Connecticut Balance
of State CoC (BOS)is a coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic
organizational structure mandated by HUD to receive homeless assistance
funding. Within the CoC, community service providers, public housing
authorities, non-profit organizations, and local and state governments
form a consortium to address local homelessness and housing issues. The
BOS covers municipalities in Connecticut that are not designated as
entitlement areas. Each year, the CT Balance of State Continuum of Care
accepts applications for new supportive housing projects to be funded
through the 2011 HUD McKinney Vento Competition. The Steering Committee
established requirements and priorities for new applications.
This is a group of social
service directors and outreach, shelter, and housing providers that are
located in Vernon, East Hartford, and Manchester. There is frequent
transience between shelter stayers in Hartford and in these three towns,
and regional efforts on homelessness should include their voices and
representation. The group works to share information, pool resources, and
work together to end homelessness in their communities.
Manchester Continuum of
In acknowledgement of the
need for supportive housing and the interest in applying for HUD homeless
assistance funds, the Manchester Planning Department formed a working
group with representatives from various service providers and agencies in
town to develop a Continuum of Care Plan in September of 2000. The
Continuum of Care group meets monthly to discuss issues relevant to
individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.
This group consists of representatives from the Town of Manchester
Planning and Human Services Departments, Head Start, the Veterans’
Administration, the local shelter, and other various local community
organizations and health clinics. This Continuum is a valuable forum in
which to exchange ideas and resources and to discuss problems and develop
The Manchester Continuum
of Care provides a forum for housing and service providers to collaborate
on efforts to assist special needs populations, with a primary focus on
the homeless. CoC members are able to share information on new funding
resources and news of events and activities catered to, or in support of,
the member organization’s clientele.
Hartford Continuum of Care
(CoC) Advisory Board:
The advisory board serves
as the primary decision making group for the Hartford Continuum of Care.
The primary responsibility of this group is to manage the overall planning
effort for the entire CoC, including but not limited to: setting agendas
for full CoC meetings, project monitoring, determining project priorities,
providing final approval for the CoC application submission. This body is
also responsible for the implementation of the CoC’s HMIS (Homeless
Management Information System), either through direct oversight or through
the designation of an HMIS implementation agency. This group may be the
CoC Lead Agency or may authorize another entity to be the CoC Lead Agency
under its direction. Members are selected in an open and democratic
process by the CoC membership. All shelters, Transitional and Permanent
Supportive Housing programs are represented.
Hartford Continuum of
Is a coordinated,
comprehensive, and strategic collaborative of housing and serviced
providers mandated by HUD to receive homeless assistance funding for the
City of Hartford. This entity is responsible for the submission of the
annual funding application to the Department of Housing and Urban. The
main goals of the CoC are to promote community wide commitment to ending
homelessness, identifying resources to quickly re-house homeless
households, help households to access mainstream services and optimize
self-sufficiency of their clients.
Affordable and Supportive
This committee will work
to find ways to increase access to affordable and supportive housing
throughout the Greater Hartford region. This will be achieved through
multiple methods including development, conversion, set-asides,
rehabilitation and preservation. Members might include local housing
providers, developers, landlords, management companies, town planers or
planning and zoning commissioners, housing authority representatives and
Health and Housing
This committee will work
to improve the integration of healthcare and housing services into a
comprehensive and patient/client centered model. Ultimate goals include
improving the health status of people experiencing homelessness and their
long term housing stability. They will work from a "housing as
healthcare" framework and work to utilize already existing systems
and mainstream resources to improve the quality and coordination of
services received by clients. This committee will also advise and organize
the monthly case managers meetings which serve to keep case managers
abreast of services available throughout the region to improve our ability
to serve clients and prevent duplication of services, as well as to gather
information from those engaged with the clients on a daily basis. Members
of this committee might include local shelter and housing agencies,
primary, behavioral and mental health care providers, health navigators, a
representative from the Administrative Service Organizations, Department
of Social Services, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of
Mental Health and Addiction Services, and others.
This committee will work
on increasing the income of the homeless, low-income, very low-income and
extremely low-income population in the region. They will work to increase
both access to meaningful employment and mainstream financial resources
including public assistance, health insurance, social security, food
stamps and more. Members of this committee might include local employers,
Workforce Solutions Collaborative, education and training institutions,
healthcare providers, representatives from the Bureau of Rehabilitation
Services, Department of Social Services, Disability Determination Services
Retooling the Homeless
This committee will work
to transform the currently disjointed homeless crisis response system into
a more fluid, consumer-friendly coordinated response that ensures that all
who are facing a housing crisis have an immediate decent, safe place to
stay and can quickly and easily access permanent housing solutions.
Projects that this committee will work to implement include a Universal
Housing Application, a Coordinated Entry System, data sharing agreements,
a prevention and diversion system, performance measures and ways to
collect the data, reduced discharge from institutions to homelessness and
general improvements in collaboration and communication across agencies
and silos. Members of this committee might include local shelter and
housing providers, municipal social service directors, Department of
Education homeless liaisons, 2-1-1, the Department of Corrections,
rehabilitation providers, healthcare institutions, Department of Children
and Families and others.
This committee will
consist of individuals who have or who are experiencing homelessness. They
will advise Journey Home staff and the Greater Hartford Alliance from
their lived experience. They will also work to advocate for solutions to
homelessness and system’s change by meeting with policy makers and
raising awareness about the realities of homelessness throughout the
Greater Hartford Region.
The Updated Plan to End
The New Goals:
the job of ending chronic homelessness in 5 years
and end homelessness among Veterans in 5 years
and end homelessness for families, youth and children in 10 years
a path to ending all types of homelessness
TABLE OF CONTENTS
of Philip Mangano to the US Conference of Mayors – January 23, 2003
a Plan to End Homelessness: Why Now?
Mayor’s Checklist: Step-by-Step Process for Planning to End
Sheet on Homelessness
Ten Essentials: What Your City Needs to Do to End Homelessness
a Plan to End Homelessness
Examples: Chicago, IL
a Data System to Help You End Homelessness
Examples: Philadelphia, PA
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
Spokane, WA HMIS
Emergency Prevention Programs
Examples: Hennepin County Homelessness Prevention Program
The Philadelphia Housing Support Center (PA)
Project Safe (Everett, WA)
Systems Changes that Prevent Homelessness
Examples: Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Illinois Department of Children and Families Youth
Everything in this Guide is based upon a set of underlying principles
for good homelessness prevention services. These basic principles should
influence every aspect of program design and implementation.
Principle 1: Crisis resolution
Every situation that could result in homelessness is a crisis for the
person experiencing it. Crisis resolution responses must include: rapid
assessment and triaging, based upon urgency; an instant focus on personal
safety as the first priority; de-escalation of the person’s emotional
reaction; definite action steps the individual can successfully achieve;
assistance with actions the individual is temporarily unable or unwilling
to attempt; and returning the person to control over their own
Principle 2: Client choice, respect and empowerment
People in crisis may feel paralyzed by the urgency and the potentially
devastating consequences of their situation. Homelessness prevention
services must help people in crisis regain a sense of control and feeling
of empowerment to actively overcome obstacles. A constant emphasis on the
client’s goals, choices, and preferences, an unwavering respect for
their strengths, and reinforcement of progress are essential for
empowerment. This does not mean clients are protected from the natural
consequences of their actions.
Principle 3: Provide the minimum assistance necessary for the
shortest time possible
Respect includes “letting go” as soon as the person has the
resources, knowledge and tools to continue their lives--however they
choose to live them. Providing “just enough” to prevent homelessness
enables a program to help far more people in crisis. Often this means
ensuring resources are used to help persons at-risk of losing housing of
any kind—persons who would otherwise end up on the street or in an
emergency shelter—before using resources to provide assistance for other
needs. Providing non-essential assistance to a program client will cost
someone else in the community their housing.
Principle 4: Maximize community resources
Mainstream assistance programs are intended to be the backbone of every
community. Creating duplicate services for a sub-population such as people
at risk of homelessness allows mainstream agencies to continue to bypass
or ineffectively serve people who have a right to better quality and
access. Duplication also wastes valuable, limited resources that could be
spent to keep more households from becoming homeless.
Principle 5: The right resources to the right people at the
The earlier a program intervenes in a housing crisis, the lower the
cost. The outcomes may look impressive, but research shows that most
people who receive prevention assistance would not have become homeless
even without assistance. The later the intervention, the more costly and
the lower the success rate. But at the latest stages of an individual’s
housing crisis, it is virtually certain she or he would have become
homeless without assistance. Good prevention programs strive to target
people who have the highest risk of becoming homeless but who also have a
good chance of remaining housed if they receive assistance.
Giving apartments to the chronically homeless can save
taxpayer dollars, advocates say
The following is a script from "100,000 Homes" which
aired on Feb. 9, 2014. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent. Andy Court,
Giving apartments to homeless people who've been on the streets for
years before they've received treatment for drug or alcohol problems or
mental illness may not sound like a wise idea. But that's what's
being done in cities across America in an approach that targets those
who've been homeless the longest and are believed to be at greatest risk
of dying, especially with all of this cold weather.
They're people who once might have been viewed as unreachable.
But cities and counties affiliated with a movement known as the 100,000
Homes Campaign have so far managed to get 80,000 of them off the
streets. Local governments and non-profit groups do most of the work.
The money comes mostly from existing federal programs and private
donations, and there's evidence that this approach saves taxpayers
If it sounds too good to be true, then take a look at what's been
happening in Nashville, one of
the latest cities to join the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
Ingrid McIntyre: You awake, buddy? [Ingrid knocks on door]
Ingrid McIntyre: Robert?
In a storage facility on the outskirts of Nashville, outreach worker
Ingrid McIntyre introduced us to Robert McMurtry.
Ingrid McIntyre: Hey good morning. I want to introduce you to
my friend Anderson.
Anderson Cooper: Hey I’m Anderson, how are you?
She’d come to ask him some questions about his health.
Ingrid McIntyre: How many times have you been to the Emergency Room
in the past three months?
Robert McMurtry: Uh, twice.
Robert told Ingrid he had a lot of medical problems: HIV, hepatitis
C, and throat cancer. He was getting treatment at Vanderbilt University
Medical Center, but living in this storage locker without a toilet or
running water. He bathed in a stream by the side of the road. He said
he’d been homeless for three years.
Anderson Cooper: How old are you?
Robert McMurtry: I'm 48.
Anderson Cooper: Forty-eight? I'm 46, so we're two years apart.
Robert McMurtry: Uh-huh.
Anderson Cooper: It's nice to see someone else with gray hair.
He said he used to work in the construction business
but fell on hard times after he lost his job and became ill. A friend
took pity on him and allowed him to stay in this storage locker for the
past three months.
Robert McMurtry: I never imagined I'd ever be homeless, 'cause I
had-- I really worked really hard my whole life and it was just
devastating really when it happened because I never imagined that I
would be in this condition.
Ingrid McIntyre runs a nonprofit called Open Table Nashville,
that’s been working with the 100,000 Homes Campaign to survey the
city’s homeless – and identify those at greatest medical risk.
"I never imagined I'd ever be homeless, 'cause I had-- I really
worked really hard my whole life and it was just devastating really when
it happened because I never imagined that I would be in this
Anderson Cooper: Do you think he’s at high risk?
Ingrid McIntyre: I mean he’s one of the most vulnerable people that
Three days after interviewing Robert, she returned with an offer that
was hard to believe.
Ingrid McIntyre: If you want to, I have an apartment for you
Robert McMurtry: Really?
Ingrid McIntyre: Do you want it?
Robert McMurtry: Yes. I do, really.
Ingrid McIntyre: Good.
The following day….
Robert McMurtry: Wow man….
Robert moved in to his very own apartment.
Robert McMurtry: This is great.
It’s in a private building in downtown Nashville.
He wouldn’t have to bathe in that stream anymore. The apartment has
one bathroom, one bedroom, and access to this rooftop pool.
Until fairly recently someone like Robert would have to jump through
a series of bureaucratic hoops, and go through a treatment or job
training program before getting permanent housing. The 100,000 Homes
Campaign advocates using an approach first developed in New York in
which the homeless are given housing first.
Becky Kanis: What we're really aiming for in this movement is that
person that's been on the streets, many cases for decades— who you
walk past and you're like, "Oh, I can't even imagine this person
being able to be in housing."
Anderson Cooper: The hardcore homeless.
Becky Kanis: The hardest core of the hardest core— who also happen
to be at the highest risk for dying on the streets.
Becky Kanis works for a group called Community
Solutions, which created the 100,000 Homes Campaign. She says
most of the 600,000 people who are homeless in the United States on any
given night are on the streets for relatively short periods of time,
usually less than a month. But it’s the chronic cases, people homeless
for more than a year, who Kanis says are most in need of help.
Becky Kanis: They're out of friends who will let them sleep on their
couch. They're out of friends who will help them get a job. They've
burned the bridges of the friends or they just didn't have 'em in the
More than 60 percent of the chronically homeless have drug or alcohol
addictions. Thirty percent suffer from severe mental illness.
Kanis says many of these people have such serious medical problems, it
costs taxpayers more to leave them on the street.
Anderson Cooper: How is it costing more?
Becky Kanis: The inability to tend to your basic healthcare needs,
results in people on the streets ending up in emergency rooms and ending
up in in-patient hospitalizations. And one night in the hospital
is a whole month's rent on most places.
Anderson Cooper: So you're saying it's more expensive to allow a
chronically homeless person to live on the streets than it is to
actually subsidize an apartment for them?
Becky Kanis: Yes, we are paying more as taxpayers to walk past that
person on the street and do nothing than we would be paying to just give
them an apartment.
Becky Kanis began working for the 100,000 Homes Campaign after a
career in the military. She’s a West Point graduate and former
Army officer who worked with the Special Operations Command.
Anderson Cooper: Do you think having a military background helps?
Becky Kanis: I absolutely think it does. It's boots on the ground
intelligence that I think is one of the defining factors.
"Yes, we are paying more as taxpayers to walk past that person
on the street and do nothing than we would be paying to just give them
To get that boots on the ground intelligence the 100,000 Homes
Campaign encourages teams of volunteers and outreach workers to spend
three nights looking for and interviewing the homeless. In late May, we
joined the teams in Nashville as they headed out at three in the
morning, searching in small patches of woods under highway
over-passes and in caves where the homeless camp.
Will: Hey, sorry to wake you. My name’s Will.
Those who agreed to answer a series of survey questions would get a
free bus pass in return.
Will: How many times have you been to the Emergency Room in the past
Homeless man: About five times.
The questions are mainly about their health …
Volunteer : HIV or AIDS?
Volunteer: Liver disease? Cirrhosis?
Volunteer: History of stroke or heat exhaustion?
The information is used to decide who gets apartments first by giving
priority to those at greatest risk of dying on the streets. And the risk
is very real.
Homeless man singing: Rocky top you will always be….home to me.
On the steps of this church, a man froze to death last year, one of
52 homeless people who died in the city.
Not everything the homeless told the survey teams was accurate. We
checked and found some discrepancies. But we were also surprised
by the candor of some of the people we met. Ernest Thomas who has a
prosthetic leg, says he once hoped to work in a pharmacy, but ruined his
job prospects by getting involved with drugs and crime. He was on parole
when we spoke.
Ernest Thomas: Look at me, man, I'm 39 years old. And
I ain't got nothing. You know I'm sayin'? I don’t even call my
kids. You know, when I do call 'em, they be, like, "Dad how you
doin'?" I gotta lie and fantasize. Oh, man, I'm straight.
Anderson Cooper: So how do you think you-- you ended up on the
Ernest Thomas: Honest with you, man, I can't tell you. I really
don’t know. I messed up. Somewhere, I messed up. Yeah.
Will Connelly is director of the city’s Homelessness Commission. He
is the person who decided Nashville should adopt the 100,000 Homes
Campaign’s approach. He’d already lined up a number of
apartments for the people identified by the survey.
Anderson Cooper: And these are fully furnished apartments, ready to
go that these people can just move into?
Will Connelly: Yeah. Yeah. Permanent housing, no strings attached
really. As long as they abide by that lease agreement, it's-- it's
The apartments are paid for mostly by the federal government which
gives rental assistance subsidies for veterans and people with low
income. The homeless are expected to contribute 30 percent of whatever
income they get from things like part time work, social security, or
Some apartments – like Robert McMurtry’s – were provided by
civic-minded landlords willing to accept very little rent. Kirby Davis
donated one percent of his units and has encouraged other building
owners to do the same.
Anderson Cooper: And what's the push back you're getting?
Kirby Davis: That-- they might harass my other residents, what are my
other residents gonna think? What kinda liability do we have?
Anderson Cooper: And-- and what do you say to that?
Kirby Davis: None of 'em got to where they are not taking risk. So
how about taking a risk for somebody else?
Kirby Davis meeting with landlords: Why don’t we go around the room
and introduce ourselves?
No new tax dollars were required for Nashville’s campaign to house
the chronically homeless. A lot was achieved by getting people who
don’t normally work together – such as outreach workers and private
landlords -- to focus on the city’s most desperate residents.
Landlord: What I’ll do is try two units and we’ll start with that
and give it a try.
To determine who should get apartments first, the homeless who were
surveyed got ranked based on their medical risk factors. Robert
McMurtry finished high on the list, but there were some in even worse
Anderson Cooper: So who are some of the people you've
Will Connelly: The most vulnerable is-- his name's Frank.
Frank is Frank Clements, who spent more than 30 years
in prison for robbery and other crimes. For him and a friend, home
was now this park bench.
Ingrid McIntyre: Where are you guys staying right now?
Frank Clements: Right here.
Ingrid McIntyre: Right here?
Jerry: Right here.
Ingrid McIntyre: Yeah
There was a bottle of mouthwash by his side, which is what alcoholics
sometimes drink when they can’t afford liquor. Frank was 66
years old and said he’d been treated for two types of cancer,
pneumonia, and heart disease.
Ingrid McIntyre: How many times have you been to the emergency room
in the past three months?
Frank Clements: About three times.
Four days after he answered those questions, he was walking into his
Outreach worker: This is your new home!
Frank Clements: All right…My heart is full of gratitude. And
you know, it’s awesome. I mean you don’t see people like this
that help people out you know.
To try and ensure the homeless don’t end up back on the streets,
social workers check in on them regularly.
Ashley: Do you mind if I have a seat?
Frank Clements: Well of course you can.
Frank Clements needed more help than most. The morning after he got
an apartment, we found him finishing off a bottle of whiskey.
Frank Clements: I ain’t no angel. I’m a damn drunk.
In the weeks that followed, social workers tried to help Frank get
treatment, they even drove him to appointments. He’d get sober for a
while, then start drinking again, then be filled with remorse. He
was so disruptive when drunk he had to be moved out of two different
apartments. Some critics of the 100,000 Homes Campaign question whether
scarce housing resources would be better spent on homeless kids or
working-poor families rather than somebody like Frank.
Anderson Cooper: Is it fair to give somebody an apartment who's made
bad choices and is being irresponsible?
Becky Kanis: I don't think fairness is the right way to look at it.
What I would prefer to look at it is what's good for everybody. So
having somebody on the streets, fair or not fair, is costing us as a
society as taxpayers more than it would cost to have them in housing.
Anderson Cooper: It does seem like you're rewarding somebody though,
who's-- you know, drinking or doing drugs or just being irresponsible.
Becky Kanis: I see it as giving them a second chance. And most
people, given that second chance, do something about those behaviors.
So far, Robert McMurtry has made the most of his second chance. He
made friends in his building, and three months after he got his own
apartment, we were amazed to see him jogging in a nearby park.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that when homeless
people in Philadelphia were given housing and support, more than 85
percent were still in housing two years later…and were unlikely to
become homeless again.
Ingrid McIntyre: How’s it going? Everything went great this
morning? I’m so glad, you look awesome.
Man playing guitar at luncheon:… 2,3,4 everywhere that I
In September, homeless advocates in Nashville held a luncheon for
some of the people they had helped. In 100 days, they had gotten nearly
200 people into homes, and all but a handful were still in their
apartments. But there weren’t enough apartments for everyone. Ernest
Thomas didn’t get one. He ended up back in prison on a parole
violation and then homeless once again.
By this summer, Nashville and other communities across the country
that have joined the 100,000 Homes Campaign expect to reach their goal
of getting 100,000 people off the streets. That won’t completely solve
the problem, but Becky Kanis says it will prove that it can be solved,
and that no one is unreachable.
Becky Kanis: We have an amazing collection now of
before pictures and after pictures that just captures the
transformation that's possible once someone's in housing. There is
something that's really dehumanizing about living on the streets in so
many ways. And then, really, in a matter of days, from having housing,
the physical transformation is almost immediate. And they're
unrecognizable from their former selves. And I don't think that there's
anybody, once they see that, that would-- say, "Well, let's put
them back on the streets again.”