HA! Calendar

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Moving into Homeless Housing

The recent interest and funding to build homeless housing with supportive services has resulted in many questioning what the most effective building and service partnerships which should be formed.  I’d like to share what I believe.
Long ago, when community groups providing supportive services reached out to housing developers to house our clients, we helped each other gain new skills.  Service agencies learned about housing development, and housing developers learned about needs beyond a place to live.  The partnerships strengthened each, and a significant number of our homeless community were helped into stability and housing.  Those fleeing domestic violence, being flushed out of state mental hospitals, and struggling with addictions received new hope. 
But while the joint development of housing was certainly a bold and successful addition to our community’s assets, it was the recognition that forming a supportive community of those sharing the journey that made the lasting impact.  Remembering that most of those being targeted had only limited experience alone on the streets, our solutions were focused on fulfilling their desire to transition to traditional family housing lifestyles.  Even so, success was greatly dependent on how effectively we helped build a new intentional supportive community around them.
In the interim, those left behind in our efforts have built communities of their own anywhere they could.  Our unwillingness to push beyond the socially acceptable homeless has not deterred those out early and pushed out consistently from turning their anger and resourcefulness into survival strategies.  The failures of our society to deliver the basic components of upward mobility to most of our citizens has soured many of them on whether it will ever be so.
In the work we will face over the next two months to create a county response to the millions of dollars being offered by the state for homeless supportive housing, we need to talk about what the housing and supportive services which are needed by the long-term, un-housed homeless.  Experienced in living in shelters, vacant houses, buildings, tents, sleeping bags, and shadows – we need to work with them to learn what they need to build stability and a willingness to reach out to us.
We need to also recognize that this new group of long-term homeless may only be able to transition if the route is through small communities that give each other support.  Many of those small communities have been cobbled together using less thsn traditional housing models, and the supportive services provided to each other are not available through existing housing designs.

Those of us who aspire to bring about new resources which meet the needs that are defined need to commit strongly to work together.  We need to re-imagine both what supportive services and homeless housing are, and our roles in bringing it about.  I am dedicated to bringing an open mind to that work, and I invite others to join with me in doing so.

Gregory Fearon
2040 Elizabeth Way
707 230-1198

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