Homelessness in Savannah Social Tools

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We appreciate the coverage but...: Homeless organizations receive $3.5 million annual award | savannahnow.com

Homeless organizations receive $3.5 million annual award | savannahnow.com:

We commented over on the Savannah Morning News article linked to above & we post that comment here too for our readers to review & comment on:

This is a very hard comment to write because the double-edged sword is a tough one to ride!

That said, there is an implied "connection" to ending homelessness with just getting the same amount of funds as we got last year! It's great to say there's lots of competition! Well the need IS growing, despite other comments by the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless (CSAH) folks about "we don't need more shelters" & "we have 'enough' help for women's, children's & family homelessness".

The fact remains however, that there is no new service or innovation in our funding it seems. The same old projects are funded, well they do need to stay running that's for sure.

However, we need NEW sources of funding & innovation to end the problem HERE in Savannah! We also need measurement toward agreed upon (by the community) results that are expected for that investment in homelessness services by the Federal Government as well as the City Government.

There are solutions that have been proven in other communities to save taxpayers money & end chronic homelessness!

We need to come together, as a community to look at these solutions as well as others (like how to address housing for the homeless in particular within the newly proposed Housing Trust to City Council) & not just the CSAH organization & it's Continuum of Care (CoC) (partner) providers (a group of partners who go together to receive the funding that they essentially apply for together as one entity!) need to be engaged in the solutions we need as a community.

We have offered the political candidates an opportunity to provide position statements regarding this Housing First Model & now we are asking the community to engage & tell the politicians that it's time for we as a community, together with the CSAH, to work towards newer, innovative, productive, successful alternatives to the current approaches being undertaken.

We have a blog where we have undertaken the advocacy for ending chronic homelessness & talked about these solutions.

Now to the unfortunate connection of the announcement of this grant & the topic of Homeless Memorial Day.

It is in fact because of the discussion we raise above that we continue to have more people dying on our streets every year. That is a bold statement but it is time for those responsible for the event to disassociate themselves with a broken system that shows no innovation or direct approach to ending chronic homelessness.

A little history is important here. While it is admirable for the CSAH organization & one of their partners in the CoC (the Salvation Army) to have organized this event for the past two years, we are lost at the connection to having been given a grant that is for existing systems & programs that have not ended chronic homelessness (in any measurable ways) & show no signs of being interested in adopting a Housing First model.

Yes, in previous years there was a purely consumer (the homeless population itself) focused organization, Community Consumer Advocacy Board on Homelessness (CCABoH), an organization that provides a voice for the homeless by those who have experienced homelessness that was taking the lead in organizing the event for Homeless Memorial Day. There has been a lack of organization & focus in this group for a while now since Teri Schell had to leave the group, so we are appreciative of at least having an event but previous efforts to participate in making this event meaningful to those experiencing homelessness have been met with barriers & ineffective, unproductive communication & action on advancing the goal of previous homeless folks participating & being recognized in the event in the past two years. In fact last year we were able to promote the event on our blog & in our social networks but this year there was NO communication with us or other advocates in the community. Even a Board Member of CSAH & a fellow advocate was unaware of the plans as far back as last Sunday. So communication, planning, organization, promotion & execution have been internalized into the CoC & that is not effective, inclusive or appropriate for an organization that is supposed to be "for the homeless" however.

While I am sure that the event was respectful for the people we have lost in their homelessness, I am also sure that the majority of the representation was of people connected to the CoC & CSAH & not those who are faced with experiencing chronic homelessness & in fact those who were homeless & knew the most recent people lost this year alone.

That is not the intention of a Homeless Memorial Day event. There is much more that needs to be done in this area & the fact that it was handled this way & the fact that City leaders have been previously unaware of the solutions we are promoting for Housing First, which are national level organizations brought local into communities as they show their compassion for the people experiencing chronic homelessness, shows that the CoC & the CSAH are out of touch with the community, those experiencing chronic homelessness (who they serve without ending their pain) goes to show we need the community to engage now & provide leadership, compassion, direction, engagement & investment in the solutions that are available.

Are we not called as a community to stand up & say "No More" will we accept losing another homeless person (or allow their lives to continue to spiral so close to death)?

No comments:

Post a Comment