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Housing First [pdf] (ca.gov)
45 points by idworks1 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

>"Tenant screening and selection practices promote accepting applicants regardless of their sobriety or use of substances, completion of treatment, or participation in services"

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.

Yes and:

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.

Ok, it’s been 5 years. At this point the state should be able to point to quantitative and qualitative improvements in the homeless population. Can they? If so, where are those studies?

They can't, it continues to get worse with each idea they come up with. It will continue this way, but they will keep moving the goalposts and changing the plan, more expensively each time.

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.

Unconditional housing is the only way. Its cheaper than having them live on the streets for the city. Its also morally imperative to have a safety net for our most vulnerable. They are our friends & family of this country and deserve better.

What if you offer a homeless person free housing and they decline? If there is housing available but they still choose to camp on the sidewalk, should the police then move them away?

If they decline, you can't force them. The goal is not to reduce the metric to 0 homeless on the streets. The whole attempt is to help people who are homeless get back on their feet. When you have food, a place to stay, and support then you can start thinking about improving your situation.

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.

That's not the goal according to whom?

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.

Often, it's not the simple. Some times it takes months of trust building. Sometimes the person is part of a community, a community they may have been part of for months or years. Yes their life isn't easy, but putting them in housing might remove them from that support network. Often times people are terrified to move away from the only group of people they've known.

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.

Certainly I think the first priority of any homelessness agenda should be to keep people from falling into it and treat existing issues before they ruin someone's life and sidestep many of those problems in the first place.

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.

This frames the issues in terms of rights and freedoms. Left alone the homeless tend to cause property damage, commit small crimes, and generate calls to emergency services because of their behavior. On average these emergency responses alone cost around $100k/year. Given that money matters it can make sense to give out some free benefits in order to reduce other negative impacts. This frames the situation in terms of costs and benefits for different alternatives.

Agree with all you are saying. The thing that baffles me is how the homeless can just take over a public space and it's just supposed to be, ok?

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

SCOTUS interpreted[0] the right of free movement to make "owes less to people who move to Seattle without housing" illegal.

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).

[0] I can't remember the ruling now, was a city in the NE IIRC

Probably https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapiro_v._Thompson

> The ruling in the case invalidated state durational residency requirements for public assistance.

Yes, thank you!

Wow, surprising Saenz v Roe occurred when Shapiro v Thompson had already been decided.

But, yeah, all these cases make any state with improved welfare benefits a migration target for unproductive people. Classic game theory situation.

FWIW, legally you can force them off the streets if you offer them housing:

https://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/our-programs/advocac... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callahan_v._Carey

This is a legal judgement, not a moral one

I read both your links, and I saw literally nothing about "forcing" anyone off the streets. What I did see was a lot about peoples' right to shelter in NYC, which does not imply that someone couldn't freely choose to live on the streets. In other words, nobody needs to live on the streets, but it doesn't look like anyone's necessarily prohibited from doing so, either.

Am I missing something?

FWIW, while buying them food I’ve met a few homeless people in Seattle.

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.

You also pretty commonly hear the opposite, too, though -- that there are too many sobriety/no on premise consumption rules that people are unwilling or unable to comply with so won't even consider shelters assuming that to be the case.

I think you're right that tracking those better and better communication of what's available are both needed.

No, police involvement and sweeps don't help.

What helps is continued outreach and trust-building. Homeless people can experience traumatic conditions in shelters that can cause them to avoid social programs.

Yeah. The safety and peace of the tenderloin is an attractive alternative.

>...peace of the tenderloin is an attractive alternative.

A vegetarian?

"...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."

Ah, gotcha.


You can thank the Sacklers and the judges that dispossessed them of all blame for the addictions they've peddled before you come for my people. You can thank the NIMBYs for refusing to build housing in their neighborhoods forcing people to concentrate here.

Fuck your negative peace.

Not sure what that has to do with anything. Dying in public from drug addiction suicide on the streets of the tenderloin is about as bad as it gets. People aren’t choosing it through rational analysis of alternatives and shelter trauma. They choose it because it lets them fulfill their 8 hour dopamine cycle.

No one chooses to be addicted.

I would expect this would be a small number of people and therefore be a non issue.

You would be mistaken. I'm no expert. But, I've been in SF long enough to talk to many homeless people there and read a bit on the subject.

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.

This article had some stats of recent outcomes from offering shelter (and towards the better end of what's available) to displaced encampments: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/57-people...

Far from the worst uptake and outcomes, but also far from great.

Depending on the housing situation being offered.

In my opinion, perhaps not popular, they should be institutionalized. This is not sane behavior.

Having worked with the homeless, declining free housing may be the most sane thing to do depending on the offer.

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.

Don't want to get into an argument, but it may be worth some caution to consider it insane to just want to exist in the world as most other animals do. The film Leave No Trace and to some extent Nomadland touch on this concept pretty well.

> just want to exist in the world as most other animals do

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.

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