Traditional homeless shelter vs. permanent housing

May 14, 2014
Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter

OPINION By SLO COUNCILMAN DAN CARPENTER

Two overriding concerns are prevalent when addressing the homeless situation in San Luis Obispo. How do we maintain the health and safety of our businesses and residents while at the same time providing a dignified path of self-sufficiency for our less fortunate citizens?

The majority of my colleagues on the San Luis Obispo City Council believe appropriating $250,000 towards the construction of a building at 40 Prado Road for a new homeless service center is the answer. I disagree and don’t believe it’s the best use of your taxpayer dollars.

It should concern you that to date, no other city has appropriated general fund dollars for this “regional homeless shelter.”

Many would like you to believe this will be a regionally supported facility, but we all know SLO is already a mecca for the transient homeless. Building a state of the art brick and mortar monument will only illuminate the attraction. What’s the incentive for other cities in our county to provide a shelter when this major facility is located within a few miles?

Our police chief has validated the increase numbers of transient homeless population drifting through SLO and documented the significant behavioral impacts this population has discharged on our community. The message is out across this country…..come to SLO where we are homeless friendly. It’s no longer “build it and they will come,” rather “build it and more will come.”

Let’s invest our local resources in those individuals who are committed to being accountable and work towards self-sufficiency and not those that have migrated here looking to temporarily draw on this community with no intention of being a productive member of society.

A paradigm shift and growing trend across this country is to not build transitional shelters. The federal homelessness policy is a model that supports primarily housing-based solutions. A national effort to reduce homelessness through a plan that promotes rapid rehousing resulted in a 4 percent reduction in homelessness according to the 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report made to congress.

The rate of recidivism is reduced significantly when individuals are placed immediately in permanent housing avoiding the traumatic experience of a multi-bed living environment. These programs focus on quickly helping homeless find employment, housing, mental health services and connecting them with social service programs. There are success stories in our state as well as across the nation. The “Housing First” approach was pioneered by Beyond Shelter, a private nonprofit whose mission is to combat chronic poverty, welfare dependency, and homelessness among families with children. This program is embraced by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) as “best practice” for governments and service-agencies to use in their fight to end chronic homelessness in America.

Rather than moving homeless through different “levels” of housing, known as continuum care, whereby each level moves them closer to “independent living” (for example: from the streets to a public shelter, and from a public shelter to a transitional housing program, and from there to their own apartment in the community).

Homeless peoples’ primary need is to obtain stable housing, and other issues that may affect the household can and should be addressed once housing is obtained. In contrast, many other programs operate from a model of “housing readiness” – that an individual or household must address other issues that may have led to the episode of homelessness prior to entering housing. Housing first places families as quickly as possible in permanent housing, and then provides intensive home-based case management and support services to prevent a recurrence of homelessness. This eliminates the path that gets people “ready” for housing. What’s to get ready, we know what they want and need. Let’s eliminate the time and resources prepping, and use the millions of dollars that would have gone into land acquisition and building a monument to supply their immediate needs.

The ongoing need for temporary seasonal shelters can be accommodated by our faith based congregations with the support of a rebuild on the Maxine Lewis property already designated for housing. Our underutilized faith based community is already in place to offer a high level of compassion and care. Such organizations as the Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless, People’s Kitchen, and Friends of Prado are fully prepared to assist in this outreach. Each has played an integral part in serving this community with exemplary tract records of support and fiscal management of donations.

Housing First ends homelessness immediately, it reduces the trauma involved in experiencing homelessness, it provides a roof over someone’s head with stability, and services in-housing rather than at a shelter or on the street more effectively. It’s particularly effective with homeless persons who have mental health or other disabilities and research shows its effectiveness contributes to reducing costs to the health care and criminal justice systems.

If we truly are our “brother’s keeper,” we should commit to a program like Housing First that responsibly provides our homeless residents with immediate housing and a legitimate path to self-sufficiency. This program removes the stigma of being homeless in search of housing. Conversely, constructing a “holding pen” for this population does nothing to elevate the dignity of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Dan Carpenter can be reached at 805-704-8567 or dcarpent@slocity.org.


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Niles Q

Good idea. Sounds to me like it’s worth a try, at least.


What’s being done now isn’t working, so let’s try something else.


Building one facility with limited numbers of beds will soon be inadequate, as the beds will fill up quickly.


And it will do nothing to ease the problems in the other communities in SLO County. Those folks will still be left out in the cold.


But, even with this idea, CAPSLO will still be involved, because they handle many other assistance programs for the poor outside the homelessness issue. Things like rental assistance, utility bills, weatherization, etc… So cutting them out completely is probably unrealistic.


And there are homeless people who choose to live outside society, preferring to live in the creek rather than give up drugs and drink. This homeless facility likely won’t help them at all. And these are the ones who are causing the majority of problems in SLO and elsewhere, so the issue of criminality might not be helped at all.


As for affordable housing, I agree there is little to none available anywhere in the county. It cost me nearly $2,000 to rent a $600/month studio apartment in Morro Bay. Had to borrow that money from my parents and paid it back over time. Someone without those resources is SOL in these parts.


Dan Duvaul’s little social exsperiment is starting to look better all the time. At least he seemed to have a genuine concern for these people, set down rules for them to follow, provided AA meetings (the only thing that works for drunks), meals, showers, and provided an alternative to living outdoors.


Hey, when it’s raining like crazy, a litle wooden shed with a bed is better than sleeping out in the weather.


If you think about it, the biggest homeless shelter in the County is the County Jail.


freshair

I wholeheartedly applaud and support Dan.


Capslo should remove itself from homeless services unless it refocuses on what works nationally. They cannot effectively process houseless people into homes. There aren’t any.


Capslo is a scam. It should help build affordable housing so their operations make sense. So far they’ve only been able to help facilitate the down and out into being awarded Social Security, followed by charging them hundreds of dollars rent to stay indefinitely at the night shelter.


The 200 bed facility will house the people that Capslo drives crazy so they can rake in the dough. If Capslo is smart it will incorporate a detox facility into it’s plans so it actually will be helping a few people.


On top of all this, Capslo utilizes the generosity of charities to help manipulate people through denying them the free noontime meal provided by People’s Kitchen. Capslo should serve their own meals in-house and People’s Kitchen should serve elsewhere in order that everyone who is hungry in SLO gets fed, per it’s mission statement.


Again, I wholeheartedly support and applaud Dan Carpenter and hope that those Council members who do not are eventually voted out. There is no good reason whatsoever to be so supportive of a lavish nonprofit group that grossly manipulates and profits from the down and out.


dogeatdog

Maybe we need to give the homeless a bus ticket back to the city where they came from. Why is it okay for other cities to send their homeless here and we don’t just send them back


GoneBabyGone

My only concern with Mr. Carpenter’s reasoning is how can the $250,000 be better spent towards permanent housing when there is NO low income housing currently available county wide? How could $250,000 realistically increase low income housing either by building, acquiring or Incentivising property owners to put a real dent in our homeless population? It won’t.


There is an alternative, one that should be considered by all…


http://www.hopesvillageofslo.com


Ted Slanders

GoneBabyBone,


By all? Surely you jest once again? Your one notion that fixes all is as ignorant as your assumed biblical knowledge.


Hope’s Village will only help 0.659 percent of the homeless in our county. Most importantly, it is obviously NOT a Christian organization at all, otherwise it would include every homeless person whether on drugs, a felon, or if they have five dogs, are psychos, etc.! Its a bandaid for the highest echelon of our homeless community.


We need Christian organizations in the likes of a Hope Village that actually follow the teachings of Jesus the Christ to help the homeless if SLO County if we’re going to be known as the homeless capital of California.


GoneBabyGone

It’s an alternative, Mr. Slanders, and I never represented it as “fix all”. Organizations such as CAPSLO will always exist, but there has to be alternatives. And your percentage rate is based on the current hoped for opening capacity of Hope’s Village and doesn’t take into account the growth they foresee. And what does it matter if they take just one person off the streets? It’s after all one PERSON, one HUMAN BEING, right?


I find it interesting that a “Christian” of your self purported high standing with God still chooses to use words such as “psychos” in your description of one or more of His creations. Since we are all created in His “image” (imago Dei – image, shadow or likeness of God) (Gen. 1:26-27) then I would assume by your own admission God is at least somewhat “psycho”? Wow, you must have a very close relationship with The One On High to be privy to that!


We’ll never compete as the “homeless capital of California” unless of course we out grow the likes of Los Angeles County, San Francisco, Oakland-Alameda, San Diego and Orange Counties, which all have homeless populations larger than ours. I think the real threat to your well thought out hypothesis would be realized if SLO became the most successful at getting people housed in California, the homeless would head here in droves, Praise God! Lets You and I pray for that one, Mr. Slanders!


As since there are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. and non-believers in this community, Mr Slanders, than this challenge of housing the homeless is a matter of community, Mr. Slanders. And if you believe that it’s the absolute duty of the Christian community then when can we expect you to usurp the laws of the city and county to open your home (Isa. 58: 5-7, Psalm 82:3, Proverbs 21:13. Proverbs 22:9, Proverbs 29:7 {extremely relevant to you, Mr. Slanders} James 2:5, etc.).


The more options for these HUMAN BEINGS the better , Mr. Slanders.


Ted Slanders

GoneBabyGone,


The insipid Hope Village can grow all it wants, but it only allows for the goody-two-shoes of the homeless, and this is why it is not a Christian organization. Jesus said to accept EVERYONE that is poor!


Yes, our version of God is PSYCHO! Have you not read the Old Testament yet? Hello, anybody home today? We have to accept that our Hebrew God went off the rails at times, and just move on.


As just one of many examples of our God’s killings, Alex, I’ll pick “innocent babies and fetus’ for $200.00”. God commanded that babies would be smashed to pieces, and their women ripped open (Hosea 13:16). You don’t remember the Great Flood where our God was upset with His people and had them all drowned, including innocent babies and fetus’? (Genesis 7) Remember Babylon, where God commanded babies to be smashed again and women raped? (Isaiah 13:15-16). God slays the fruit of the womb of the women in Ephraim. (Hosea 9:11-16) He commands the death to helpless “suckling” infants (1 Samuel 15:3). Here our god is praised for slaughtering the innocent first born. (Psalms 135:8 & 136:10) Here god commands that infants should be “dashed upon the rocks.” (Psalms 137:9) Ever wonder in what that would sound like?


Anyway, In the examples shown above, you have to admit that our God was mentally unstable at this time “IF” you’re also going to state that He is all loving and forgiving, get it? Yeah, you do.


Community effort my ass! Who wants other religions that don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, or God incarnate helping the poor in SLO County? This is a Christian mantra! “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)


“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ( Luke 14:13-14)


“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.” ( Leviticus 25:35-36)


“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)


Opening my home to the poor is very difficult because I live in my “Salvation Bus” down by the river. This is all I have left because I gave away all of my wealth to the poor as Jesus COMMANDED years ago because our Socialist Jesus stated; “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19-21) GoneBabyGone, I am sure you’ve done the same thing, yes?!


On a side bar note, you used my name six times in your most current puerile expose’, and of which shows the respect that you must give to me as a righteous messenger of God. It is duly noted, thank you.


GoneBabyGone

I’m glad you see it that way, but if you were actually listening to God, or if He was actually speaking to you, you’d know my use of “Mr. Slanders” is done with anything but respect, Mr. Slanders.


Ted Slanders

GoneBabyGone,


Uh, wait a minute, didn’t you forget to address the main body of my post to you? Did bible facts get in your way again?


I am listening to God alright, and that is shown in His writings that for some reason you seem to be running away from. Because of this FACT, I will place you with the 99.99 percent that are “pseudo-christinas.”


GoneBabyGone

Better there than in your .01 percent, Mr Slanders, much better.


Ted Slanders

GoneBabyGone,


Okay, you’ve shown your colors, all bombastic in the beginning, but when the biblical FACTS start piling up, you run as fast as Ted Kennedy did from the Chappaquiddick Bridge incident!


We get it.


isoslo

Stop it Dan! Using common sense and intelligence is not going to change anything. Building the facility has little to do with helping the homeless, it has everything to do with helping the people whose job it is to work in homeless services. The money is about high paying jobs with benefits. The homeless are merely a tool for achieving that objective. If we build a large expensive facility it will guarantee a need to fund the facility for decades. If any homeless happen to benefit, well that would be nice, but we all know that is the lesser concern. So Dan you need to take your well thought out logic and reason and go elsewhere, because if you get in the way of the big government crowd you will be branded a conservative or worse a tea partier. The homeless facility will require an increase in funds year after year until it becomes a huge budget item that cannot be trimmed due to contractual fixed costs.


Myself

I agree completely with Dan on this,this is such a waste of taxpayer dollars and will do nothing to get homeless people into housing. The creek dwellers and bums we have around SLO are the problem, if someone thinks that they can get these people into housing is off on another planet,they want to live like they do and crapslo is enableing them to do so,building this will do nothing but bring more bums and direlects to our area,it will be the hobo hotline all over again. On the other hand our people here that have gotten homeless and jobless need help,there are familys living on the street but they don’t need a 200 bed facility to do so,I believe the money would be better spent getting these people back in low cost housing and help them with their finances than to build this sham,all this is going to do is foster more of the same from these organizations.

As far as the bums we have here round them up figure out who they are and send them back to their city,with a do not return tag on them, and my favorite is use the facilitys on the back side of Cuesta Collage build a non climb fence around it and put these direlects there,dry them out put them to work and try to make something out of them,but get them the hell off the streets and creeks.


GoneBabyGone

You’re kidding, right? Then, what would be next? Repatriating camps? Gulags? Forced work camps? And if these “higher thinking” solutions don’t work (which they wouldn’t)? Should we advocate euthanasia? It would be, after all, the “final solution” to these “bums and derelicts”, right?


Low cost housing has to be available FIRST, and there are none to be had county wide, RIGHT NOW. And with a 4 to 5 year waiting list for vacancies the only way to make that “fantasy” come true is to build more. That ain’t gonna happen, not as long as property value, image and tourism is put above the value of human life.


Again, there is an alternative, one that San Luis Obispo has fought long and hard to silence…


http://hopesvillageofslo.com


kettle

Myself says: “The creek dwellers and bums, round them up figure out who they are my favorite is use the facilitys on the back side of Cuesta Collage build a non climb fence around it and put these direlects there”


So you want to build “camps” for the homeless, to imprison them after “rounding” them up? Perhaps some forced “showers” you know to “clean them up”……


You know who else wanted to put the homeless into camp’s?


achillesheal

Amen brother!


Kevin 99

I think Mr. Carpenter is arriving late at the party. The Homeless Service Oversight Council already has adopted the Housing First model, and is steering funds in that direction.


Mr. Holly

I hate to tell you but HSOC which has spent thousands if not hundred of thousands dollars of your tax money to do away with homeless in 10 years has done absolutely NOTHING since its inception some 5-6 years ago. Dan Carpenter, who I hope will be our next Mayor, is right on.


kettle

Kevin 99 says: ” The Homeless Service Oversight Council already has adopted the Housing First model,”

Sure, but that was 2008 and a 10 year plan that is not happening.


womanwhohasbeenthere

Thank you Dan Carpenter – I could not agree more!