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A practical way to help the homeless find work and safety

The following text contains transcriptions, quotations, excerpts from an original source linked below.

When Richard J. Berry, the mayor of Albuquerque, saw a man on a street corner holding a cardboard sign that read “Want a job,” he decided to take him (and others in his situation) up on it. 
He and his staff started a citywide initiative to help the homeless by giving them day jobs and a place to sleep — and the results were incredible. 
 
Handing out money to pan-handlers (which oft-times is not spent replenishing the body but rather on drug/alcohol addictions) is not resolving the root issue.
 
If you have something to do or need people to do something – it is a perfect solution.
We ask these panhandlers if they’d like a days work rather than panhandling for the day.
 
And if you’re wondering if they really mean it, almost everybody we ask takes up the job we offer them for the day. <—-NEED A DRIVER FOR THIS.
 
You also need a great non-profit organization that provides (food.housing. counseling.). They provide agility.  <———–THE HAVEN IS WHAT THIS FULFILLS.
 
We pay our panhandlers $9/hr. 
 
We cleaned up trash, weeds, and litter in the city (the panhandlers jobs they did). 
 
It takes resources, but it doesn’t take much. We started with:
–an old van
–a driver for the van
–a great local non-profit 
–and $50,000  
 
We also had to have community trust (built up in years prior).
Housing people is 31.6% cheaper than keeping them homeless.
We’ve saved over $5,000,000 while housing over 600 people. So we had that community trust.
We had to get people to understand that when they hand those $5 out the window – they might be minimizing their opportunity to help those people in need (that they’re handing the $5 to on the street).
 
We ask the homeless people
Where’s he from?
How did he get here?
How can we help him?
 
We’ve reduced unsheltered homelessness in our city by 80% in the last year.
 
We’ve been able to reduce the chronic homelessness in our city by 40%.
 
And we’ve literally eliminated veterans homelessness in our city by being intentional.
 
Chicago, Denver, Dallas, are now starting to implement programs where they bring the DIGNITY OF EMPLOYMENT (work) to the equation.
 
Homelessness is not separate from domestic violence, of illness, or substance addiction — that’s not to say all homelessness people experience these problems — but every one of these problems is connected to homelessness.
 
We need to change the way we do business —- if we believe a system is a group of integrated parts forming a complex whole – then there is no health care system or mental health care system or homeless service delivery system.
There are health care programs and providers! Mental health care programs and providers! Homeless service programs and providers! But integrated on a large consistent scale across the country? IT DOESN’T EXIST.
 
Well by now we should all be pretty discouraged and depressed. A decade of work by smart educated people spending billions of dollars without great results.

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Here is a model of what works, that can be scaled up and sustained, to move the needle on resolving homelessness.
 
The poor will be with us always – i know – but the poor don’t have to live like abandoned animals on our streets.
 
Instead of having silos of programs serving homeless ppl as if they’re one dimensional — why don’t we create holistic systems of care that are genuinely fully integrated and address all of their needs.
 
Until we have a fully integrated system, we are never going to solve this problem.  
 
SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
What people need is stable HOUSING with the ongoing services of mental health care, hospital care, substance abuse care.
Rather than discharging your homeless people to the streets, we said please discharge them to us (the homeless shelter). <——— this creates a decrease in costs and creates permanent solutions. <——— this creates a decrease in costs and creates permanent solutions.
 
The challenges facing homeless people are not isolated one-off solutions. They’re integrated. But we don’t treat them holistically.  
We need to embrace radical change in how we connect all of the dots. (like a cell phone, the power and effectiveness is how they’re all connected #apps on iPhone for instance).
 
A holistic system
— they’re housed and off the streets
— their health improves
— they have an ability to become community contributors
***they’re no longer in and out the streets (into hospitals and jails) etc. This saves tax dollars!
 
We continue to serve homeless people on the cheap (bucket by bucket rather than holistically). These bucket to bucket contributions are not adequate on their own.
 
Homeless people do not need our pity or deserve our scorn.
They all want a chance to connect and belong with others, to share their gifts and talents. 
 
Homelessness is solvable — what we’re lacking is the collective moral outrage, and the political will to get it done. 
 
If you think that leaving people on the streets isn’t costing you anything, you’re wrong.. we’re spending a fortune in police, paramedic, jail, and hospital costs most of which is covered by citizen tax dollars.
 
We could be spending far less and having much better outcomes for homeless people, and at the same time creating much better living communities across this country.
 
I want to see this holistic model scaled up and implemented in every community on our planet. 

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