Friday, August 19, 2011
The Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim: How to defeat Homelessness in America
As I see it there are four Levels of Poverty in America and it would be bad to have to live at any of these levels in life and try to survive. But there are levels that are worst off then others. Level One as I see it would be the Working Poor, people with perhaps a Full Time job and maybe another job on the side and perhaps are able to get by. But don't make enough money to live above the Poverty Rate in America and perhaps live on some form of Public Assistance in America like Medicaid or Food Stamps. Then there would be Level Two people who are unemployed or under employed and perhaps work seasonable jobs or are on Unemployment Insurance or Welfare Insurance. If they are on Unemployment Insurance, perhaps they are well educated but the job they used to have no longer exists. Or they can't find another job in their field at this point. Or didn't finish High School or College or both and had kids before they were ready to support them on their own and are perhaps Single Parents with the other parent out of the picture. Then there's Level Three Poverty, the Hungry in America who don't have access to enough food because they can't afford it and they don't have enough food for themselves and their family or perhaps both. The odd thing about Level Three Poverty is that a lot of these people have jobs and perhaps Full Time jobs and perhaps another job on the side to go with their Full Time job. And perhaps collect Medicaid and Food Stamps, yet they don't can't afford to feed themselves and their families adequately. Then there's Level Four Poverty the Homeless in America people who suffer from perhaps all of the consequences that the other Levels of Poverty but what's worse. Is that they can't afford to feed themselves and their families adequately and can't afford a place to live at all. Plus they may also have a Health Condition or a Mental Condition or an addiction or a combination of all of these factors that they have to deal with. I'm concern with all four Levels of Poverty in America and have blogged about all four levels before but in this post. I'm going to concentrate on Level Four homelessness because thats the biggest problem with the most challenges as I see it.
What we've been doing to fight Homelessness in America for the last thirty years and perhaps longer then that, is essentially a warehouse approach. Essentially warehousing the homeless in America which might sound awful but its true, its also the same approach we've used to house our Prison Inmates as well which is a different blog. But what we've been doing with the homeless, is bring them off the street and into a Homeless Shelter or find a Homeless Shelter on their own. Give them a meal and a cot for the night and perhaps breakfast the next day. But then send them back onto the street no matter the weather good or bad or in between. To make room for the next group of homeless the next day. And with this approach we've saved a few homeless people for that night or day, from starvation or freezing to death or being mugged. But then we give them another opportunity to reach that fate the next day by kicking them back on the street the next day. And continuing the Cycle of Poverty as it relates to homelessness, instead of dealing with the issues of why they are homeless in the first place and how we can help them deal with these issues by empowering them to deal with their own issues. So they can become Self Sufficient and close this chapter in their life and move on to a better chapter.
What we should be doing instead of having Homeless Warehouses which is how I would refer to a typical Homeless Shelter. What we should be doing is having Housing Centers for the homeless which is already happening in big cities like Sacramento and San Antonio. Where these people can get help with their issues and while they are receiving this help. Would live in a motel like setting by themselves or with their family. While they are getting help with the issues that they have for why they homeless in the first place from a Housing Center. Like Health Care, Drug Rehab, education and Job Placement and then help finding their home if they need it. As well as other things they would need like getting a State ID as well as sign up for things like Welfare Insurance or Unemployment Insurance. Public Housing, Food Stamps and a job in the Housing Center. To help offset the costs of their stay there so these centers can pay their bills.
Homelessness in America is a huge problem and represents a major percentage of our Poverty Rate, especially with the "Great Recession" and the Housing Crisis that we are still struggling to recover from. But its an issue that we can overcome if we are clever and intelligent about it. And move pass the idea of warehousing people and instead empowering people to get themselves the skills that they need to become Self Sufficient.