We offer this follow-up specifically at Thanksgiving time because we all must take time to think about what we are thankful for! Our homes, families, the feast we are going to have tomorrow are all very valid things to be thankful for. Some of us are thankful to be spending our first Thanksgiving housed & out of the “system” of homelessness! But our thankfulness cannot stop with ourselves & our own situation, we MUST engage the community to end chronic homelessness NOW. It can be done, it MUST be done & NOW is the time in Savannah, GA! For the story hasn’t ended, it continues & we hope you engage in the solutions that are obvious to us!
There are other approaches to ending homelessness among the most chronic homeless in a community.
Savannah has a chronic homeless population that is often the subject of discussions regarding their presence in our downtown squares & parks.
Alternatives need to be reviewed & implemented to remove this population from accusation for various acts which some do commit but most don’t.
However, the programs that have been implemented in other communities have provided valuable alternatives by providing “Housing First” models that seek to place these most costly individuals (to the taxpayers) into Permanent Supportive Housing (vs shelters) that wraps services around their housing & helps raise them up out of their homelessness.
Taxpayers have also been able to save money & resources by properly implementing a program in their community that engages all constituents & those who aren’t likely suspects as well in developing these alternative solutions.
Let’s start the dialog here & continue it after the election!
Bring Homeless Advocates, experts from outside the community (who have successfully implemented these projects by addressing all surrounding concerns) & those experiencing homelessness into the discussion too!
Would you, if elected to a seat on City Council (or any other elective position in City Government), support politically & in practice the creation of Permanent Supportive Housing (“using the Housing First Model”) as modeled in other communities addressing their chronic homeless population?
We attempted to get all the candidates in the local Nov 8th elections to engage on this question! We didn’t get very effective engagement but we did get some & we will pursue it with those who responded. Much has happened & there is a run-off on Dec 6th. Look for more from us after the election & when the new City Council & Mayor are sworn in in January 2012!
We outline some additional thoughts on the process & approach needed to engage the community further in the process of supporting a Housing First model in Savannah!
We welcome feedback & engagement from those who align with the process, even our frenemies!
Notes & Positioning – What’s at Stake:
This background & question has been submitted to the Downtown Neighborhood Association Candidate Forums for consideration to be presented to the candidates for the Downtown Districts & At Large Alderman positions.
We have written separately & posted on Facebook to some of the candidates, including for Mayor but wish this to be carried to the Media & presented in whatever ways create dialog that helps the Voters get a sense of their commitment to ending chronic homelessness during their terms if elected.
We also engaged ALL candidates in two email campaigns where we were able to track engagement, we published the responses we got & look forward to all reviewing the level of responsiveness from all approached for their position statements!
There are many ways to gain consensus in a community & we are ready to engage with whomever comes to the table. All are welcome & should be represented!
We have very specific approaches to be presented to gain that consensus in & around the community by opening up the process to the light of day. Proven techniques for design charrettes are available with a process that brings all relevant issues to light & enables the community to see the whole picture & respond accordingly!
We have gained a deep understanding of ways that other communities are addressing the issues of homelessness in their communities & some have even developed plans to end homelessness in FIVE years! That was done in Los Angeles by creating a Business Leaders Task Force under the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce & their United Way! We CAN do that here in Savannah! We would suggest including Visit Savannah & the Tourism Leadership Council!
We participated in the National Alliance to End Homelessness Annual Convention last July even playing a role in the Capitol Hill Day component visiting with Georgia Senators & Representatives staff to bring attention to the needs of the homeless in these tough times!
As far as is known to this Advocacy, public presentation & discussion of Savannah’s Ten Year plan to end homelessness (developed in 2006) has been lacking since we entered the scene in August of 2010.
We seek to engage the entire community in this discussion, opening all our eyes to the realities we are dealing with on a daily basis in terms of compassion, accountability, measurement of outcomes & results & management towards agreed upon objectives & performance levels.
This issue is far more than ending chronic homelessness but this is the most visible component that is gaining attention & in that attention lurks some very dangerous perceptions that need addressing immediately & in a compassionate manner, engaging all the existing stakeholders & some of the not so normal suspects!
Bring on the reasonable, consensus building discussions! We all have common ground in this effort & we need to collaborate as a community, businesses, individuals, faith community & yes, even the Tourism Sector!
You see, this Advocacy has a total 360 degree view of the issues & is willing to stand in the gap to bring disparate constituents together in a facilitated, coordinated, collaborative, collective manner that has been proven in other communities to WORK!
If not in Savannah then we must ask the question, WHY NOT?
To summarize, if an Editorial in Pensacola, FL can support a 100,000 Homes Campaign project then our Media can engage as well!
- The All Political Campaigns in Savannah, GA: Connecting on Promoting Innovation, Creativity & Change to End Homelessness in Savannah, GA (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Initiative to end chronic homelessness in Utah successful ()
- Mayoral candidates differ on homelessness approaches (knoxnews.com)
- Knoxville mayoral candidates disagree on alcohol in apartments for homeless (knoxnews.com)
- Savannah program too? | Homelessness in Richmond: Group looks to get those most at need off the streets – wtvr (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- A Quote to Remember & Use for Accountability (Everyone should “have a roof over their head”): Page 4: ‘This Week’ Transcript: Speaker John Boehner – ABC News (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Savannah’s Answer to World Homeless Day 10/10/11 (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Candidate Position Statements on Homelessness, Savannah GA 2011 Races – Campaign Contact Info (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Homelessness in Savannah, a Learning Experience: Housing First (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Call to all Savannah Medical Schools & Health Care Educational Programs: We need MORE – > Street Medicine: Making House Calls to People Without Homes | haRdLy NOrMal (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)