The way homeless prevention usually went was that a person would stay in a shelter, show good behavior, and then receive support services. Now, we are realizing the positive effect of housing the homeless first along with immediately providing support services.
“[A]verage stays dropped from four months to 28 days since summer,” Executive Director [of South Oakland Shelter], Ryan Hertz, said.
In an earlier post, I touched on the importance of the ‘housing first’ approach. Getting someone housed takes a weight off of their shoulders and allows them to focus on utilizing support services they may need to overcome addiction or mental illness. “In Detroit, Southwest Counseling Solutions used the approach to find permanent housing for more than 600 mentally ill clients in the last five years, Executive Director Joseph Tardella said.”
People with mental illness or addiction can not simply be asked to stay in a shelter and be expected to recover or suddenly act responsibly. Only in rare cases can people recover by themselves under these circumstances. Indiana took initiative in 2003 and came up with the Blueprint to End Homelessness focusing on housing first and housing plus (affordable housing plus support services).
What do you think the pros and cons are for the housing first approach? Comment below.