Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Is the “Housing First” model being used to clear out the homeless?

From around the country:
New York City is finishing “cleaning up” 70 sites where homeless people are encamped. Of 300 people, 68 were placed in temporary housing; the rest have moved on, possibly to living underground in the subways.
Birmingham, Ala is also “clearing out”: the homeless from area encampments, at the same time as the city is trying to figure out how to give the homeless a “virtual” address and phone number to help them look for work.
“Quite honestly, we've taken them from one spot to the next, and we realize that. We've gotten some off the street. We've been successful in some cases. We've offered services to every one of them,” said Don Lupo of the City of Birmingham.
In Tacoma, Washington, 42 people out of an unknown number have been placed in permanent housing after the city used some of its “Housing First” money to clear out 13 homeless encampments.
On the other hand: In Oakland, CA, city officials plan to open a temporary encampment and step up outreach to the more than 60 semi-permanent camps across the city, currently sheltering 600 to 900 people. They want to place 20 people a month from the temporary encampments into stable housing. About 6,000 people in Oakland are homeless at any given point in time.
Oakland has a fifteen-year plan to provide 7,380 affordable housing units with supportive services by 2020.
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Two homeless people I couldn’t do much for: A 17 yr old girl I’ve known for three years and who has been homeless for most of them called me…she’s homeless again but not eligible for shelter because she’s under eighteen, even though her mom and dad are in a shelter right now. So far she’s managed to avoid addiction, disease and pregnancy. Last night, I got a phone call from a guy who described himself as “62 and unexpectedly homeless.” When he became homeless he had two dogs; one was quite elderly and he had her put down earlier this week. He has his small dog still with him, but shelters don’t accept animals. He’s been sleeping in his car….

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