This is such an important piece of a complex puzzle. It easy to see from the outside that substance abuse is self-destructive behavior. The problem is that these abusers, consciously or not, feel that the substance is the only thing that helps them and keeps them from totally losing their shit. The authoritarian approach of "quit abusing substances or no housing for you" has failed spectacularly.
Getting these people on the path of recovery requires the lower tiers of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (like safety, food, shelter, etc...) to be securely in place first.
Emphatically agree with you.
Substance abuse contributes to homelessness AND homelessness contributes to substance abuse. It's a downward spiral.
(When living rough, a lot of people turn to self medication. Someone already suffering (eg chronic pain) loses access to proper meds will then use whatever's available. Etc.)
Expecting people to be clean and sober before getting housing is imposing inappropriate morals and standards onto an already terrible situation.
The bad life choices are not going to stop based on having a roof instead of a tent. The idea that all of the services that have been offered, and not taken up, are suddenly going to now be carefully considered and accepted because they are in an apartment, is some serious wishful thinking.
This is a collection of loosely-assembled hopes, labeled and prettied-up as social "science". It's more of an escape plan for politicians than anything else.
There will be a number that will reject any help. But the overwhelming majority will want to improve their lives and programs like this will give them an opportunity.
I think there's multiple sides of the argument that getting everyone off the streets is the goal:
From one angle, if someone's in such a bad state that they refuse shelter, is it really better from a "help them get back on their feet" to leave them there?
From another angle, we treat very few other civic obligations as "optional." If you don't want to pay sales tax, you still have to, for instance.
this is deeply on display in the "According to Need" podcast series released by 99% invisible recently. https://99percentinvisible.org/need/
Ideally everyone would see the benefits and realize this is better, but these people have a lifetime of other issues and being houseless is only part of it.
But I am deeply skeptical of arguments that, having gone that far down an unsuccessful path, you now should gain extra rights and freedoms that override the wishes of the rest of the people in the city you're in. Though I could see this be on a scale - for instance, I think Seattle owes less to people who move to Seattle without housing than they do to people who had housing in Seattle who got priced out.
It's like some strange eminent domain situation. Seems obvious that I should not be able to just claim a public space for myself.
It also seems obvious to me that people don't have some kind of right to live wherever they want (like the heart of Brentwood in LA has been transformed from a beautiful fun place to a sad wasteland).
My solution to homelessness is basically reducing housing costs by dropping minimum parking requirements, height restrictions, min sizes units, etc.
And mental health treatments.
I'm generally su
We can't fix chronic homelessness because the remedies are either illegal at a federal level (privileging locals, asylums) or against the sensibilities of voters in the regions where it is concentrated (prosecuting illegal drug use).
 I can't remember the ruling now, was a city in the NE IIRC
> The ruling in the case invalidated state durational residency requirements for public assistance.
But, yeah, all these cases make any state with improved welfare benefits a migration target for unproductive people. Classic game theory situation.
This is a legal judgement, not a moral one
Am I missing something?
What I learned from those conversations was that while “enough beds” exist and are provided, not enough of them are in “sober shelters” and it’s apparently very very hard to get into sober shelters.
Right now we talk about it all as “all housing is the same”. We probably need more housing for the homeless that exist for the ones who want/can’t help but to use, the ones who are validated as sober but also the ones who want to be sober but aren’t verified as sober yet. I’m sure all of these exist, but we definitely need to be a better job tracking those buckets differently, allocating resources better, and talking about them as separate things.
I think you're right that tracking those better and better communication of what's available are both needed.
What helps is continued outreach and trust-building. Homeless people can experience traumatic conditions in shelters that can cause them to avoid social programs.
"...piece of the tenderloin is an attractive alternative."
A meat eater?
"...piece of the Tenderloin is an attractive alternative."
A real estate investor?
"...peace of the Tenderloin is an attractive alternative."
Fuck your negative peace.
Paranoia, drug dependence, coping self-delusion, self-destructive pride and sometimes genuine personal need cause a huge number of homeless people to outright refuse housing when offered.
Far from the worst uptake and outcomes, but also far from great.
An example from the past year in the bay area: A woman was offered a free room in a house with other homeless people. The doors did not have locks, and a someone who had raped her was living there. Some of the beds had bedbugs.
I know this sounds over the top but there's basically no oversight for a lot of these programs. Many are run by people just looking to get homeless people out of the way. A shocking number of free housing offerings are worse than a good camping setup.
Any wild animal causing the same level of danger, disruption, and nuisance in cities would promptly be hunted/poisoned/trapped. Not sure that's a great direction.