What would happen if our first step towards solving homelessness was to actually give people someplace to live?
Maybe some wandering monks don’t even want a home, but pretty much everyone else does. The question we should ask ourselves is, does everyone deserve one?
I’m going to deflect that leading question and point out that the data show that we ALL benefit, economically and as a society, when there are fewer homeless people on the streets. So, as we all benefit, then helping the homeless is helping oneself. At which point, the argument over whether or not we should help people becomes less of an issue, and the question instead becomes how?
Various cities and even some countries are adopting what’s called the Housing First model. This approach is very different than what has been done previously, and it has inspired folks all over to rethink what is possible. Housing First reverses the conventional wisdom that the way you solve homelessness is to get people jobs, which gets them money, which gets them homes. Instead, it posits that getting them homes has to be the first step.
Many of the places that have successfully reduced homelessness have used this approach. From Nashville to Finland, Housing First has helped get thousands of people off the streets, and has shown that homelessness can be reduced to functional zero. Amazing.
Housing First is “simply the idea that you accept people as they are… You just accept them as they are and you provide the housing first… Then, once they’re in their apartment, you immediately wrap all the services around them that they need to stay stable and live the highest quality life that they can live.”
Can we include housing and shelter with the other human rights many of us have come to accept? The right to vote, to education, to practice one’s religion, to embrace one’s sexual orientation, to a fair trial, and in some countries, the right to medical and health treatment for all—there was a time when many of these rights were not presumed to be given. Now many of them are.
One obstacle to adding housing to this list of rights is the notion that homeless folks are just fuckups and nothing can help them. I know I’ve had friends who couldn’t win for losing, and the easiest attitude is to just dismiss them and, in effect, blame them for the problems that have befallen them.
But often, people’s problems are not their own fault. Most of the world does not offer us a level playing field. Add to that the fact that the line between doing okay and getting evicted is very thin—one medical emergency or surprise debt and you’re on a slippery slope. Without a buffer, hard-working people can end up homeless.
Some of these hard working people, in fact, over 959,000 of them are single parents and ShareAbode is working hard to create awareness of the strategic solution that they offer them through home-sharing because when rent and expenses are shared its easy to keep a roof over your head.