Well, I am taking the easy path tonight because I still haven't done my Twitter posts and my body is giving out. I was at Facebook and came across a post by the OREGONIAN about their series on homelessness in PDX (Portland, OR). I went to the article and was moved to make a comment. I had to sign up with my Facebook page to get it posted... then I shared the text at the original FB post. I went to some other pages and posted it again at one, then had to make an email to the author about another comment so I added this in. I guess this post is getting repeated!! :-)
I hope you will think about your area's homeless issues and some of my suggestions...
I guess I would like to add my own comments...having been homeless in PDX before and always in danger of being homeless again.
Poverty is always going to be with us, and if the economy falls, there will be a LOT more problems than the ones being faced now. Permanent pathways need to be created for the endless cycles of people who will not have enough money to pay their rent, buy their food, get to their necessary places and their healthy relationship places, and either build their lives with school, work, retirement, etc. The article box says less than 5000 are recorded as homeless, but giving room to grow, plan for 5000 permanent spots and figure out the spaces that can flex in a critical emergency.
I have sent letters to many of the area people who are involved in the homeless issue...and my suggestions have never received a reply. There are a lot of options, but it requires a different way of thinking about the problems. Missions are good for emergencies, not for a lifestyle. Tent cities are temporary, every program I have ever come across (and I do admit I haven't looked at too many for some time) is based on extreme temporary-ness. :-( Not a solution, only a band-aid that keep causing repeated injuries.
What about Street Roots? Why not help them get apartments with street-level retail to house their vendors and create more income for their programs? A vendor program can be created in every neighborhood or section of the PDX Metro area... which would spread out the opportunities and the burdens. How many papers can be sold in the downtown area? It would help Street Roots and help the homeless who are trying to make their lives better... maybe help get the recovering addicts away from the downtown temptations.
Parking garages are another option I thought of. They can be modified with Restrooms that include showers, have protective fencing put around the perimeter, have a camping flavor that some long-term homeless need, are close to transit and other services, and have the ability to be utilized for all kinds of emergency services. Parking garages can be supervised with Security Officers and can be monitored with cameras. They have elevators for the disabled and can be permanent parking for people living in cars, vans, and trucks. The top floor is usually not prime parking space so it can be blocked off for its residents. Parking space lines create the boundaries for each resident, and can be allocated as one, two, three, or four space quarters, depending on the need.
Another concept I have suggested is offering home ownership instead of rental subsidies. Properties can be abandoned properties owned by banks and governments, or other businesses and individuals. Using the subsidy formula, make payments be in the 30% of income amount, with the option to pay more as each month allows. This would mean there wouldn't be a subsidy payment involved, and the lending group would be receiving income with each payment.
The Bible has a reference to people being able to borrow on their tithe for a 20% fee...a flat fee. This would be a great way to think of selling housing to the homeless and would not create a problem with lifetime interest that is twice the price of the property. The balance owed would be reduced with every payment and that would create more incentive to pay it in full. If the starting fund is a revolving loan fund, then each purchaser will know that they are helping someone else get a house when they pay off their loan.
I know there are a lot of HUD homes that would work for this focus... and current government housing could be sold to its tenants and made into a permanent home for them... which would require the forming of an ownership association.
Home ownership would create the first need of the homeless :: stability. One place, a permanent place, to grow from...to call their own and not live in fear of being on the street again. This is especially critical for young parents and the elderly/disabled. The lending relationship would create a permanent contact option and follow-up link.
A KOA-type campground would be better than a tent city...because it could offer a small store, laundry facilities, places to grow food, separate sections for families and singles, planned activities, and income in small amounts for space fees...which can also create work-trades for rent, and later on some references for the job hunt. It would be supervised...very important for places with children. And if it is large enough, some food trucks can be available, maybe as health department approved kitchens, for those who are business-minded to start creating their own income with small efforts.
I guess those are my best suggestions for now. If I won the lottery (a BIG one), I would have already had them created. :-)
I think I have shared these before in my posts, but can't remember when that was.
Will see you tomorrow, GOD willing. :-)