Homelessness is a destination – not a people or a culture where they came from. It is where they ended up. When we look at all the people who have arrived at this destination, we must have a system that addresses individuals and their particular situation that got them to homelessness. To have this happen, it takes person to person contact. One person approaching another and meeting them where they are. In the homeless community, there are categories of issues, but always individual stories. Someone who can make the connection, make a call, and find the location and the people who can help that person in their current situation. Some who are experiencing homelessness, due to mental health or loss of hope in the system, need specialized assistance in finding and accepting the help they want and need.
The key when addressing the needs of the homeless person is going into the encounter with the mentality that we are not only trying to get them into a system that will assist them, but we are also focusing on how we will get them out. Through the implementation of a coordinated entry and housing placement system rooted in the principals of Housing First, we can achieve the goal of reaching a functional zero in individuals experiencing long term homelessness. The principle of Housing First provides the homeless individual with the ability to have their immediate needs met, so they can focus on getting help to achieve their long-term goal of permanently being off the streets.
In our approach, we take the person in need, evaluate their eligibility on filling that need, then match them up to the corresponding resource. The big reality check in accomplishing this goal is that one can provide all the resources and opportunities for a homeless individual, but it is still up to the individual what they decide to do and how they will change. We need to measure success based off of the person’s vision of success, not our own. As a community we need to have a system that is efficient, meets people where they are, and it holds us accountable as a continuum on how to get people off the streets. We deserve it as a community, and they deserve it as individuals.
Ryan Loofbourrow; Executive Director of Sacrament Steps Forward
To learn more about Ryan and other people who are making a difference in their communities check out Convergence.World