I just read the article in the Home Town news. It was very well written and it clearly defined both arguments for centralized shelter and the decentralized approach.
I live on the streets; the decentralized approach does not work because the programs and shelters do not reach out to the majority of the street homeless population.
Here are some quotes from the Hometown News Article:
“This is a population we have to reach out to and try to work around their needs, around what they’re afraidof,” “We’re trying to make people part of a community – not just to enable them in the center of the county with a bed.”
Ms Northey is very perceptive. Most homeless that I know are afraid to take the steps
forward that is needed to integrate back into society. My friends on the street lack self-confidence and self-esteem. Any successful program must address these needs.
The problem with Ms Northey’s thinking is that the programs that are currently being provided do not reach out to 40% of the homeless population. Transitional housing is mainly targets the chronically homeless that are chemically dependent or mentally ill.PermanentHousing specifically targets men and women who are considered never to be able to integrate back into society because of both a mental illness and a chemical dependency. With the exception of the Salvation Army street team I do not know of any programs designed to help meet men and women who are not chemically dependent or mentally ill needs.
18% of the homeless population is considered chronically homeless, according to Lisa Hamilton (Executive Director of the Volusia Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless) So, Mrs. Hamilton’s numbers would suggest that a large number of the street homeless population is not being reached out to, their needs are not being met and they are not being helped to integrate back into society
The number may even be higher. I am considered chronically homeless because I have been on the street for over a year, but I do not qualify for most transitional housing solutions and absolutely no permanent housing solutions. One fact that may make the number even more staggering is that most transitional and permanent housing solutions require a person to have an income in order to be reached out to. Most street homeless do not have the money to enter programs even if they do qualify.
“With the decentralized approach, she said, “You move somebody into a neighborhood that is well-kept, working and take pride in where they live. And what they do is begin to blend in.”
That sounds great- where do I sign up.
The problem is that street homeless are not being reached out to and they are not being integrated back into society. The majority of the homeless do not qualify for these programs and those who do cannot afford these programs.
Pat Northey concerning Tiger Bay
“It reminds me of a gulag,” “We’re going to shuffle everybody off to the center of the county where there are no residents and leave them hanging out there. I don’t understand the charm of it.
Anyone who has had to spend any time in a gulag or a concentration camp probably would be offended by Ms. Northey’s comment. I am sure that Mike Arth does not plan on turning Tiger Bay into a “gulag”.
I am sure that Josh Wagner, Sheila McKay and the others on the Tiger Bay advisory board have no intention of turning Tiger Bay into a “gulag”. No one is going to be forced to go to Tiger Bay and certainly no one is going to be forced to stay. Only the powers that be can make it a gulag. Any plan is only as good as its implementation.
No one is planning on Tiger Bay just being a place to hang out and sleep. Mr. Arth and the advisory board will provide services to those in need. I am on the advisory board and I envision Tiger Bay acting as an intake for those homeless who seek shelter and who normally would not seek help.
Tiger Bay could act as an out reach center were homeless men and women can be assessed and their needs identified. Tiger Bay would act as a treatment center providing professional help for those who need it. Finally Tiger Bay would act as an emergency shelter for those who just need rest.
Josh Wagner on Tiger Bay:
“This is something to do in addition to what we already do,” he said. “Nowhere does it say we’re getting rid of everybody else’s turf. We have to have a lot of small, moving parts.”
Right on, why not help everyone. Why not reach out to those who qualify for housing solutions and can afford them and reach out to those who do not qualify for housing solutions. Yes we should help the chronically homeless with permanent housing solutions as many that we can. However, what about those who are falling through the cracks.. What about those men and women who only have one option for shelter, emergency shelter. Why cant we address their needs as well.
“There are different schools of thought about it,” she said, “but what it comes down to is that HUD is only funding scattered site housing.”
The Coalition for the homeless in Orlando is currently building a emergency shelter aimed at helping single men that they admitt there are very little services for. This emergency shelter is being funded by federal grant money over six million dollars.
No one is asking Lisa Hamilton to find a funding source for an emergency shelter. However, we would like the coalition for the homeless to stop standing in the way of progress.
What it all comes down to is, do you want to help people or not. Can the people who find Tiger Bay distasteful because they consider Arth’s plan to be a gulag or a concentration camp sit by while a large majority of the homeless population suffer from lack of sleep because they do not qualify for housing first solutions.
The Federal government strategic guide for ending homelessness gives the four essential parts of the continuum of care;
1. Out reach
2. Emergency shelter
3 Transitional Housing
4. Permanent Housing
Without an emergency shelter, located somewhere, homelessness will continue. Volusia County cannot reach out and address the needs of all the homeless and give all the homeless a fair shot to integrate back into society without an emergency shelter, an immediate safe alternative to sleeping on the streets.