The Homeless Crisis

There is not an urban city without a homeless crisis. There are people who are just down on their luck, people who are mentally unstable, too many Vets, and runaways. Climate changes will create more homeless issues with immigration on the rise. What do we do?

NPR has a series of conversations with places around the country who are having success at reducing homelessness and how they are doing it. As always, it takes time, multiple players, a real commitment to really make a change and go about it from the ground up.

I listened to an interview between Martha Kregel, the Executive Director of the Unity of Greater New Orleans and NPR’s Jeremy Hobson. New Orleans had 11,600 homeless people after Katrina. Since then Kregel has been involved in reducing that number by 90%. I can’t stop thinking about it.

First thing they did was collaborate with all the organizations interested in solving this issue. They would go anywhere and do anything to house each individual homeless person. They got money from Congress with the concept called Housing First believing that everyone wants to have a roof over their head. The amount of cash it takes to keep a homeless person on the street moving them from jail to shelters and sometimes hospitals far exceeds a home.

What is exceptional is how they just continued to work with individual homeless people especially those with mental illness. One on one, slowly and surely, to get them to the place where they would do it. They did not just toss them into shelters but worked on getting everyone their own housin.

The people in NYC and LA and certainly SF might take a trip down to New Orleans to see what they did because the numbers show that this is an issue that can’t be changed, never perfect, but certainly it can get better.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    i will listen as i am so clueless to think intelligently about this thing that is our faces everyday.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Curious what you think after listening

      1. awaldstein

        I’ll send a mail after i listen.Do note link above is broken.

  2. JLM

    .What does this mean?”Climate changes will create more homeless issues with immigration on the rise.”Homeless have a tendency to move south for the winter — makes sense, right? Much easier to be homeless in Austin by God Texas in February at 70F than Chicago at 0F. In ATX, there is a crowd that hangs at the homeless shelter downtown that “winters over” in Austin.Illegal immigrants are a very hardy bunch and don’t usually become homeless. If they did, they would be subject to being picked up by ICE or BP. In the old days, they would be deported in a New York minute. Illegals tend to keep to themselves and are rarely seen in public.Illegals will live in trailer “camps” in which they will be housed 20 to a trailer.Legal immigrants are never homeless because part of becoming a legal immigrant is dedicated housing and, many times, sponsorship.The situation in New Orleans with Katrina — August 2005 — was unique. The flooding, the failure of the dykes, the failure of pumping systems created a perfect storm that was exacerbated by the low lying districts of the city — Lower Ninth Ward, as an example.All of the problem with Nawlins — 400,000 people displaced by Katrina — has to do with the inability to rebuild in certain neighborhoods because of flood restrictions and insufficient capital (insurance proceeds).When the housing was not rebuilt, business such as grocery stores didn’t rebuild either. The grocery stores are only going to rebuild if they have the proper density in a certain radius — classic retail site selection demographic analysis.In addition, when they do rebuild, they tend to build “supercenters” whereby two 35,000 SF facilities are replaced by a single 100,000 SF facility. This is true of Walmart and HEB, as an example.Fourteen years after Katrina, there are no more moving parts. Homelessness is not Katrina related.Here is a good article from 4 years ago that lays out the problem. It is from Mother Jones, but it is perfectly accurate and correct.…More importantly, the dykes, the pumps have still not been repaired adequately.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…