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Indybay Feature
Housing First: Solution to Homelessness
by Tania Arango
Wednesday Dec 11th, 2019 5:17 PM
Examines the Housing First policy and how it could help in combating Homelessness
The United States falls behind other developed countries when it comes to implementing policies that help our nation’s most vulnerable populations. We have seen in recent years, a rise in Homelessness in our own community, Sonoma County, which has the second-largest homeless population, compared to similarly-sized suburban communities in the U.S., boasting a population of 2,657 Homeless adults. This was outlined in the annual homeless assessment report given to Congress this last year. This is a phenomenon that can be and is attributed to the high cost of living, and lack of affordable housing. At the same time, wages have stayed relatively low. As a society, we are more comfortable with punishing and criminalizing the homeless, rather than treating them with compassion and care. We need to move towards a solution that is informed by research and implement policies with clear goals in mind. Other countries have implemented solutions to try to solve the issue of homelessness, perhaps one that has had the most successful, has been Finland’s efforts to reduce Long term Homelessness. They worked with nonprofit organizations, different municipalities from across the nation and implemented a program that was completely different from the traditional staircase models that dealt with homelessness. In the staircase model, a homeless individual had to pass certain requirements in order to achieve housing when it was determined that they had “earned it”. In Finland’s case, they implemented a Housing First solution, which guarantees housing to everyone without requiring anything from someone before. Certain shelters here have sobriety as a requirement in order to be able to stay there, in the Housing First model, this would not be the case. People are supplied with Housing of their own and have a variety of social supportive services on site. Although this might seem like an idea that is out of reach, this model was developed in the United States first, in the late 1980s. Its been 40 years since then, and we still have the social problem of homelessness, which is complex and hard to solve. There are many layers, and we have a lot to do before we can solve this issue, providing temporary housing and transitional housing efforts should be prioritized before implementing something like this. That being said, the housing first model provides a great solution to a social problem that should not exist in the richest country in the world.

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