1. Educate Yourself
Beyond the humanitarianism of housing those without homes lies another, financial benefit to solving the housing crisis.
The Housing First Model is one in which those experiencing homelessness obtain housing, first. This means that before obtaining employment, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, etc., that the person’s first goal is to attain permanent, stable housing. The idea behind this model is that everyone deserves housing. This model eliminates the idea of the “deserving poor” as it has been proven that housing is what solves homelessness…imagine that!
The financial benefit to such a program is that housing people significantly decreases the amount a community spends on emergency resources. Those who are homeless more often use our ambulances, emergency rooms, police force, jails/prisons and judicial system. It has been proven that housing the highest utlilizers of these services significantly decreases the amount of emergency services used, ultimately leading to a decrease in your taxes!
2. Educate Others
Ever heard of the term NIMBY? Well, now you have. NIMBY stands for Not in My Backyard and is often used as a noun to label those who are against housing projects in their neighborhoods. These people often believe that housing projects will increase crime in their neighborhoods and decrease their property value. Fortunately, this could be further from the truth. Permanent Supportive Housing Programs have been proven to not affect either of the NIMBYs concerns and often lower the cost of emergency service use by those housed in PSH programs, lowering the amount paid by taxpayers, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and police and ambulance responses.
3. Support Housing Programs
The highest utilizers of a community’s emergency services are most often those categorized as “chronically homeless”. The definition of a person who is chronically homeless is one who has been homeless for at least a consecutive year or 4 times in the last 3 years and has a disability. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs were created and implemented to house and support this specific population. PSH programs require tenants to pay 30% of their adjusted income towards rent, while working with a case manager to fulfill goals to sustain their housing.
4. Vote for Government Officials who Support Homelessness Issues
Since much of the funding that goes into housing programs comes from federal and local governments, it is important to support those officials who make a stand towards housing for all.
5. Social Connectedness
It is imperative to eliminate the “us” vs. “them” attitude. Empathy can go a long way when solving homelessness. A good start is to remember that mental illness and substance abuse issues are not easy to live with. It is not easy to stop being schizophrenic or to stop using Heroin. It is also important to keep in mind that certain types of mental illness and substance abuse comes from significant trauma and how each of us copes and deals with our trauma is unique to us and our situation(s). It is not fair to judge others. We are all in this together and the communities who have solved homelessness (have reached functional zero) use helping one another and empathy to drive housing the most vulnerable in their communities.