Friday, December 27, 2019

Poor Measurement of What Works

I always feel frustrated about this kind of thing, which is so right on here and there, and so deceptive and partial overall. It’s very difficult to write accurately about this subject, because whatever you write has to talk about complexity, and be longer and clearer and less definitive than this. We have to  illustrate better how stupid it is to talk sweepingly about whether communities are healthy or unhealthy. We have to demarcate much more precisely what kinds of communities work, and which work partially (warehouse shelters; Oakland’s city-run villages.)

Our solutions, which are city-sanctioned and technically city-run, aren’t mentioned, and appear to be clearly castigated. And this very counterproductive point echoes the CDC bully pulpit point that is killing us, and will be read wrong by everyone: “Official strategies should focus on connecting people to permanent long-term housing solutions and not creating and operating city-run encampments.” In fact we can use both, the latter much more that the former, and this shining straw man of CDC’s, of what we “should focus on” is always dangerous, because there has to be lots of foci. And the article barely mentions “even tiny home” solutions, when what we are shooting for is a key innovation: eventually converting part or all of our permanent village locations into partially self-managed,  permanent supportive housing in tiny home or RV communities. Individual inexpensive homes, whether they are called permanent or not, are a holy grail that we can’t find our way to in any of these visions. We need statements that don’t just show our solution as possible, but that emphasize them as more broadly applicable and cost-effective than conventional PSH, warehousing, and navigation centers.

We WANT “city-run” camps that are partially self run, run by an informed agency, and that strike a compromise between their caricatures of city-run camps (deny free agency, a great evil we should stop, cause illegal encampment sweeps, far from downtown) and self-run camps (inferred as wonderful when they are not because management is often poor and services aren’t integrated, and inferred as only necessary temporarily while we “focus on” something.)

In general, i would recommend everyone read this sort of thing very carefully, and try to note how many confusing concepts are being mixed together and dumbed-down to get across something simplistic. Messages are either missing or embedded that hurt our clients. Each partial truth or deceptive phrase ruins the whole piece for us, especially with policy setters: 

we must focus on permanent solutions; 

effectively extol official neglect as proletarian self-management; 

not mentioning the compromise and possibility of a healthy agency approach; 

not tying to the notion of desired services, individual plans, and individual focus; 

Discounting (not mentioning) how the challenges of mental disease and addiction and trauma and very poor child-rearing affect the health of a community, requiring essential compromises to idealistic anarchic visions of autonomy and self-organization;

not mentioning these villages can become PSH, and if run well imitate successful PSH in the meantime; 

not making clear the massive heterogeneity required in solutions, beyond everything they (and I) mention here, including the great applicability of hybrid solutions that incorporate lessons from independent camps, RRH, PSH, intensive mental health solutions, CIT, motivational interviewing, etc.; 

infer that “city-run” encampments get put in the wrong place.

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