Two areas where we would like to improve what we do are sheltering families and sheltering individuals. We do the sheltering part pretty well. All of our shelters are carefully managed to create as safe and healthy an environment as possible. We have a pretty good track record in that respect.
We also have a very good record of getting people into housing. Of course, the more resources we have the more people get placed. At times in the past we have had almost adequate money to house a large proportion of families in need, but we have never had much to house homeless individuals. These days we have less money to house either population, families or individuals.
Besides more money for housing, which we are working on, we’d like to be able to find funds to create and manage programmatic activities that make stays in shelter more valuable for both populations. Individuals often need detox, health services and mental health services. Families frequently need the same. What both populations need is pre-employment training. In today’s world, unless you have a serious and verifiable disability, you need to work to support yourself. Most of the people we serve are not personally equipped to obtain and maintain a job that pays that much. A well-organized curriculum of personal self-management and pre-employment training, as well as some funding and staffing to supervise internships, might well make the difference many need.
People, in my experience, want to work, to support themselves and have productive lives. Circumstances have been cruel and unforgiving to them, and they need kindness, patience and a hand up.
We are determined to develop and implement such a plan.