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Can homelessness be solved?: John Maceri at TEDxUCLA

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

John Maceri talks about an issue that is lingering across the US that unfortunately fails to be addressed on a daily basis. He reminds us that there is indeed something that can be done to help alleviate this issue and get our citizens off the streets.
John Maceri is the Executive Director of OPCC, a nonprofit social service agency based in Santa Monica. OPCC provides a wide variety of housing and services through its ten projects serving low-income and homeless youth, adults and families, battered women and their children, at-risk youth and people living with mental illness.  
 
“The richest country on earth and yet you let your citizens live like abandoned animals on streets.” -Moral outrage!
 
While we’ve always had very poor and homeless people as part of our society, widespread homelessness today has only become prevalent over the last 30 years.
 
There are many reasons for this:
— Policy decisions many decades ago that shut down many mental institutions.  
— The loss of jobs and declining wages that help people obtain and keep their housing.
— The widening income gap that’s pushing more people into poverty.
The proliferation of highly addictive and very cheap street drugs (crack cocaine; crystal meth)
— Veterans returning from war without adequate support to keep them from falling into homelessness.
The high cost of housing especially in our urban areas where low income people simply cannot afford to pay their rents.
— Jails and prisons and foster care – which continue to discharge people into homelessness.
 
It’s easy to blame an administration or another for these problems, or one political party or another for how we got here. The challenge is not to understand what created the problems; the challenges to understand is how do we get out of this mess.

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One of the arguments that’s used for why we haven’t been able to move the needle on homelessness – is a lack of resources. “WE need more money. If we just had more resources we could do better”. 
Well of course resources are important, and we can’t do our work without them, so yes resources are a critical component in the solution, but it is a lack of resources that’s really at the root of this problem? 
 
Over the last 30 years, we’ve spent billions of dollars funding homelessness services across the country.
We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars in health care dollars treating homeless people in hospitals. Law enforcement dollars incarcerating them. Mental health dollars treating them. Added together, we’re talking about billions and billions of dollars and yet we haven’t made significant progress. 
 
In Los Angeles , the numbers are increasing. Why!? It’s NOT A LACK OF RESOURCES…….. It’s the lack of a holistic fully-integrated comprehensive service-system that addresses all of the multiple and complex needs of the homeless people, and then uses our resources in a targeted way to meet those needs. 
Just as we know that humans are comprised of BODY MIND AND SPIRIT, we also know that it’s impossible to make lasting change without a holistic SYSTEM.

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