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Indybay Feature
A Housing First Approach Can Curb Sonoma County Homelessness— If Implemented Correctly
by Jenna Bettencourt (bettencj [at] sonoma.edu)
Monday Nov 15th, 2021 4:29 PM
California is committed to ending homelessness using a housing first approach, but many organizations still do vetting to see who is most "worthy" of housing. We will only see real change when we commit to and actually carry out the vision of Housing First.
Although you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking, California has committed to ending homelessness using a Housing First approach. This approach entails ensuring that every single California resident is permanently housed before dealing with issues such as mental health and substance abuse. You may be wondering— with all the millions of dollars allocated to organizations trying to solve this problem, why are there still so many people out on the streets? It is because we are not using a true housing first approach. Although it is mandated for organizations tackling homelessness to use housing first strategies, many of them still have qualification standards for who is housed and who is left on the streets. These qualifications often entail being sober and mentally stable, a direct antithesis to a housing first approach. How are we to expect people to win their battles with substance abuse, employment or mental health when they have no permanent shelter to shower, dress and sleep? Only when we implement a true housing first approach can we expect to see true change in our homeless population.
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