Commonsense compassion for the homeless


By Max R. Weller

That’s one sensible approach: prioritizing shelter / services for homeless men, women, and children who have been residents of Boulder County, CO for at least one year, with PROOF required. Haven for Hope in San Antonio, TX has done this in the past, but recently changed to 9 months proof of residency. (Click here to see what is considered valid evidence at that nonprofit.)

Homeless families meeting this test must receive a broader range of shelter / services than homeless single adults, for the sake of the children involved. The Housing First model for families seems wise to me.

Now, to my area of expertise based on more than a decade living as a homeless man in Boulder and its environs: homeless single adults who don’t need to be either incarcerated* or held in a secure psychiatric facility . . . I assert that the do-gooders tiresome, unproven notion of Housing First for these single men and women is NOT an appropriate response to their needs. What do they need? A minimal level of shelter from life-threatening weather conditions along with basic nutrition, water, and medical care. There are many private groups which will furnish clothing and other necessities to anyone in need, no questions asked.

I base this simple approach on our strongly ingrained humanitarian sense, NOT on the ridiculous notion that it’s possible to “reform” anyone’s lifestyle of choice. I also am bright enough to understand that spending over $24M upfront in the attempt to reform only 115 homeless individuals is irresponsible, if not NUTS. Do the math: it’s about $208,696 per person and doesn’t include ongoing operating costs of these programs, which are also substantial. (I refer to Housing First at 1175 Lee Hill with 31 residents, Ready to Work at 4747 Table Mesa with 44 clients, and Attention Homes 1440 Pine project with 40 residents, all three combined.) This hugely expensive and inappropriate compassion may be great for the chosen few, although I’ve known many who gained nothing by it in the long run, but it leaves many hundreds more out in the cold, literally.

I’ve often touted the Tiny House Village model, done for as little as $5K per unit, for all those homeless single adult residents of Boulder:

By OM Build in Madison, WI

Tiny Houses are a commonsense and cost-effective solution to the problem, one which doesn’t lend itself to the self-aggrandizement of the phony do-gooders.

To add a note of despair, the current homeless situation won’t change for the better until the present leadership of the shelter / services industry is sent packing.

*Yes, a change in sentencing guidelines is needed to keep convicted perverts locked up until they’re too old and feeble to assault anybody.

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