Whether you live in a major metropolis or a small town, chances are you’ve seen homeless people sleeping or wandering the streets at some point. On those cold and ruthless winter nights I can’t help but feel compassion and misery for anyone who doesn’t have warm food, clothing, or a bed to help ease the sub-zero temperatures.
In Canada alone it is estimated that at least 200,000 experience homelessness in a year. This number is substantiated by an even larger number of homeless people in the United States, coming in at an unsettling 1.7 million. One can’t help but ask ourselves the daunting question, “what can I do to help?”
A Backwards Solution
Enter 100k Homes. Sparked by the belief that conventional homelessness interventions were not working efficiently enough, 100k Homes is bringing a backwards-considered approach to solving the homelessness crisis.
For years, homeless service providers worked to offer medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, job training and countless other services to people living on the streets. Most homeless people were told they had to earn their way to permanent housing by checking these supplementary boxes.
The organization’s manifesto boasts, “The bottom line is that it is just too difficult to battle addiction, take care of serious physical and mental health conditions or find steady employment while simultaneously battling homelessness. That’s why all 100,000 Homes communities adopt a ‘Housing First’ approach.”
The housing first philosophy dictates that the most vulnerable and chronic people experiencing homelessness be offered the choice to move into permanent housing combined with available supportive services (“permanent supportive housing”) right away.
Housing First is based on the simple idea that a homeless individual will be most successful when able to make his or her own informed decisions about housing and health. Housing and services are made available when a homeless individual chooses them, not as a requirement or mandatory condition. This breeds a sense of independence and self-efficacy that is often instrumental in helping individuals remain safe, healthy and housed.
Yielding Incredible Results
Since launching their campaign, 100k Homes has earned more than their goal of housing 100,000 homeless people. The total number of homeless people housed is now at a whopping 105,580! It’s incredible to see such a massive effort being made to solve this major issue.
“As of right now, in just under 4 years, the communities participating in this movement have housed [105,580] of our most vulnerable neighbours, many of whom were at an extremely high risk of dying on our streets, and are now safe in homes of their own.” – Becky Kanis Margiotta, Director, 100,000 Homes Campaign.
But 100k Homes isn’t stopping there.
Tagged as “Zero2016”, the campaign is aiming for a heroic goal by the year 2016, with hopes to have the number of homeless people in America at zero. Yes that’s right, ZERO!
“We know for sure that there is no person that can’t be housed and there’s no community that can’t be ending homelessness. There’s no putting that toothpaste back in the tube. You can’t go back from there.” – Becky Kanis Margiotta
So many of us take for granted the simple pleasures of having a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom. 100k Homes is reminding us of these common luxuries. But what makes 100k Homes so incredible is the action factor. They are finding a solution to the problem and implimenting it, creating positive and substantial change along the way.
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