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.