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…Giving every person living on the streets a home with no strings attached.
While traditional housing programs ask that prospective participants get clean and seek psychological treatment before being admitted into the system, the Housing First approach doesn’t make any of these demands. Whoever is in need of a permanent place to stay will get help, no matter what their circumstances are.
“We take the stance that people are worthy of a home and it is a fundamental human right to have shelter and a roof over one’s head,” Jamie Rogers, who ran the Housing First program in Medicine Hat told the BBC.
Housing First also brought with it a number of unexpected positive effects. Emergency room visits and run ins with police have dropped while at the same time court appearances went up. Once people felt that somebody cared about them, they mustered up the necessary motivation to begin dealing with their past in a positive way.
Medicine Hat didn’t just implement Housing First (which is also being used in other cities with varying levels of success) but rather changed its whole approach to homelessness. Rather than building, or relying only on subsidized housing, the city built a relationship of trust with landlords, property management companies, and local communities as a whole.
Fear and prejudice towards the homeless was replaced by the realization that they are simply people down on their luck and nowadays landlords call up city hall to offer their apartments to the program.
Medicine Hat’s inspiring success proves to us all that if we put aside our fears and differences and instead come together as a community, nothing is impossible.