Chapter 6Make It Feasible: Select the Right Solution

“Right before our eyes, rapidly rising numbers of people are living—and dying—dying on our sidewalks, parks, and canyons. Something is deeply wrong. Dealing with homeless people is hard, dirty work, bereft of easy answers. Still, somebody has to do it. So far, we have outsourced our compassion to government, which mostly delegates the job to nonprofits, and they both are falling behind.” These words appeared on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2016. Since then, the problem has gotten much worse [1].

There isn’t a major city in America that doesn’t struggle with homelessness. It’s also a major problem in other countries as well. Last year, about 550,000 people were believed to be homeless in the United States. The solution to homelessness is not, fundamentally, a resource issue; the United States spends billions to address the symptoms and results of homelessness. Nor is the solution undoing the safety net—shelters and specialized housing and advocacy organizations—already in place for the homeless. It’s also not new “civility ordinances” or get-tough policing policies.

Any solution must be specific, requiring good data and focusing on housing first, the right kind of housing, with intensive wraparound case management. It also requires the will to push businesses and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to meet the need, move out of their comfort zone, and reprioritize money that is already being spent. Finally, ...

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