A civilized and humane society doesn’t look the other way. Yet public and private funds available to help homeless people are limited. Plus, this population is tough to serve. It includes people suffering from mental illnesses and addiction, along with those who lost jobs and lack the skills to get new ones.
Solutions are difficult and complex. A coordinated effort among area service agencies is necessary to squeeze the most out of every dollar, reduce duplication and get results.
We will address the “civilized & humane society” aspect of the quotation later!
Yes, we agree CSAH (Chatham Savannah Authority FOR the Homeless) should be mended at some level, however we (advocates outside the “system” of providers known as the Continuum of Care [CoC]) prefer a radical, innovative overhaul, possibly even addressing the charter that created the “Authority” if necessary.
By law it must exist so we can receive federal (& state) dollars for the services that they fund, directly allocated to our community [based on that marvelous thing called the PIT (point in time count)].
If we don’t have our own CoC we would be covered as a part of the rest of the state [known as the Balance of State CoC](communities that don’t have CoC’s of their own, lumped together at the mercy of the State we presume).
We would then have to battle over the state politicians instead of HUD & Washington politics (under scrutiny now for sure), instead dealing with Atlanta politics (is that better other than the concept of moving decisions to the states?)!
Confusing we know, however, without that knowledge folks in the community cannot assess decisions that are being made effectively.
And the community MUST evaluate & participate in the process of reform!
You see, the perception is that the sole reliance on federal dollars & the seeming inability of the existing structure, organization & employees (Board included) to allow & provide for effective engagement with non CoC partners or provide for the expansion of the scope of what it means to be & who can be a CoC partner is important to the innovation we are calling for.
We stated way back in 2010 (10-10-10 to be precise, in an interview on WSAV) that it is not just the “job” of the federal, state, or local governments or the existing CoC & their band of (exclusive) providers to end homelessness, providing solutions is the “job” or we prefer to say responsibility of the entire community (faith, business, tourism, individuals) [& not just street ministries that provide basic human needs & more]!
So, we have been on a mission since then to do just that from an awareness perspective, networking within the community & developing a base of support for where we are now!
We have a vision & we’re presented it last Thursday night (1/17/13 at The Savannah Baptist Center [704 Wheaton St] at 6pm) to the faith community at this point, with our focus on having an exploratory meeting to create an entity currently known as the Savannah Area Interfaith Taskforce on Ending Homelessness (that may or may not be part of a reformed CoC).
You see, without a restructure & reform that allows for an effective expansion of the base of support (funding) for solutions, we are stuck with the approaches we have seen get us to this point!
It isn’t just a matter of the “reasons” alluded to in the referenced Editorial!
It’s a matter of basic principles of a community being “civilized & humane” in it’s approach to homelessness in this case!
We choose to look at it as “Choose Compassion, see what happens”!
You see, for us of faith, it boils down to compassion delivered thru solutions, not just caring but doing! Faith without works is dead, ever heard that in your faith family?
It’s also about being outside the four walls of a church doing the works right in the line of fire so to speak, face to face with those in need, responding to real life situations & working with those who can be made whole again once they get over their hopelessness!
Renewal & recovery are where we need to be, not sobriety for the sake of sobriety, not recognizing that recovery can be a life long process causes failure & relapse, just like life long learning being what makes productive citizens & lives whole. Condemn people for their relapses & you make no progress towards recovery!
That’s how we view the current environment & invite all interested in bringing our faith community to the table so we know what everyone is & isn’t doing so we can effectively address where we should & could go as a committed group of believers.
The faith community needs a voice at the table & we’re working toward that!
We seek to make this an Interfaith effort so we can get the broadest base of support for solutions that will take a lot of work but ARE doable.
A Housing First model that we’ve been writing about for a while now is the foundation for getting this homelessness under control.
As for public & private funds being limited, yes, public funds are but private funds ARE available when there is confidence that they are bringing real solutions.
That’s why we’re so interested in “pay for success” models of funding & will pursue those avenues. We have leads into those sources we can tap!
The approach is there ready for evaluation & consideration by the whole community!
Why should the whole community be involved?
Well, the simple answer relates to our vision that started way back in 2o10!
But other communities have taken that approach too in a very doable & realistic way.
Ten Year Plans, mandated by the Federal government, have been updated all around the country to include Housing First for example.
Other communities don’t just have the CoC & it’s members developing new plans or updating existing ones.
Entire communities & all parts, including the homeless themselves, are involved in the planning & consensus building process!
Plans are managed these days so we know if we’re on plan or target to really accomplish the stated & agreed upon objectives.
10 year plans with updated yearly action plans get us where we want & respond to the needed evaluation of success & failure with adjustments being on the table regularly.
Ask anybody at the CSAH or within the CoC:
- are we on plan based on what we said we would do in the current plan,
- are there measurable & quantifiable goals & targets
- did we accomplish what we said we would do in the last 10 year plan (they call it a strategic plan) and
- more importantly if not, why not & how can the new plan set us up for success
The answer revolves in expanding the base, not having the homeless service providers operate in isolation or in a vacuum. Bring it into the light & we’ll all see what’s the reality!
And finally, yes, this population is tough to serve, however, the faith community & how we’ve been serving the homeless needs for the most part & definitely thru the street ministries (for the most part) are relationship focused where consistency & respect as well as gaining the understanding that you’re there to operate in their best interests get you a long way with the hopeless. They develop trust & will be accountable to doing what they should be doing to end their personal homelessness!
And who knows best how to restore hope for the hopeless than by implementing a faith-based perspective?
Why hasn’t the faith community been effectively engaged up to this point? We won’t speculate other than to say we are very confident that we can because we have reached out & had the tough conversations, developed relationships around enabling people of faith to expand their own works that are important to their growth in their personal faith walks!
So we are pretty confident that it can be done!
What role can you as an individual & a church or faith group play? How can you be involved?
Come & find out or at least engage in the dialog & meet some folks who want to come together for the end result, seeing people succeed in their quest to end their personal tragedy!
- What Our Community Should Demand to Know about the Homeless Authority (CSAH) [being in disarray] & Homelessness in Savannah (housingfirstsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Do you want to help our homeless get “Back on Track”? | Housing for the Homeless: 14 Smart & Sensitive Solutions | WebUrbanist (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)