We have a homelessness crisis. Our homeless community today is very different from long ago, when it mostly consisted of mentally ill patients who were displaced when the Mental Health Institutions shut down. So many folks live on the brink of losing their home and shelter due to rising housing costs, economic hardships, and health emergencies. Quite often it’s people who have stable jobs even.
In my mind, there’s a three step approach to ending homelessness:
- Immediate help for those currently homeless;
- Institute long term housing solutions; and
- Combat the causes.
I support and will actively engage in all efforts to get homeless people shelter immediately, including warming centers, car camping, and tent camping. Then, we need to institute a housing first policy that utilizes rapid rehousing and supportive housing as steps toward long term housing solutions. Finally, to combat the causes, we need more housing units, living wages, more comprehensive social services, better education, and better healthcare.
I recognize that there is a small % of folks who prefer or say they prefer to be homeless. These solutions should be targeted at the folks who want and need the assistance to get back on their feet with secure shelter and housing. Immediate shelter, housing first solutions, and supportive housing can realize substantial cost savings to the county with reduced emergency services, including law enforcement, healthcare, and other expenses.
Demonstrated cost savings utilizing supportive housing:housingcostsavingfactsheet-zero2016