Showing posts with label chronically homeless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chronically homeless. Show all posts

Friday, June 6, 2014

Homeless Terms To Know - Chronic Homelessness


About a dozen years ago HUD made the bold move of defining a particular type of homelessness.  Prior to this new definition, the government made no distinction between types of homeless people.  Still HUD has only been dealing with homelessness since 1987 through the Stewart B McKinney Act.

HUD created the governments first responses to Chronic Homelessness in 2003. From the HUD website
HUD adopted the Federal definition which defines a chronically homeless person as “either (1) an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, OR (2) an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.” This definition is adopted by HUD from a federal standard that was arrived upon through collective decision making by a team of federal agencies including HUD, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
With that came the governments first definition of Chronically Homeless people. After considerable input from the homelessness industry, HUD redefined the term so to make it more accurate. The following was added to the definition
A family with an adult member who meets this description would also be considered chronically homeless.
I am sure that the government will continue to revise it's definition as it gains knowledge of the subject.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Homeless Terms To Know - Frequent User

A "frequent user" is a homeless person who makes excessive use of community services.  His addictions and/or mental health issues are so extreme that he spends an inordinate amount of time in jail, and the cops are often called to deal with him, and he makes several trips to the hospital and its emergency room.

At first, HUD labeled these people "chronically homeless" but that label was inadequate.  There are many chronically homeless people who are not frequent users and some frequent users are not actually chronically homeless.

Learning about homelessness and it's many forms and variants requires some time. But the government is now taking the time to learn these things.   They will make mistakes, certainly, but with each new discovery they will learn more, and their knowledge of homelessness will become more accurate and thus more productive.

At first, HUD was focused on eliminating Chronic Homelessness.  And you'll still hear that term kicked around a lot.  But what they are really doing is attempting to determine who the frequent users are, then they'll work to get them off the streets, so to save communities a significant amount of money.

What will happen to all the other chronically homeless people once the frequent users are off the street?  Will the government still be motivated to get the remaining chronically homeless off the streets?  Or will those people be abandoned once again, because they don't really cost communities much money?

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Chronically Homeless And The Frequent User Fallacy

When the government first introduced the "Housing First" model for dealing with homelessness, it included a brand new definition for a type of homeless person, the "Chronically Homeless".  The basic idea was that by putting the chronically homeless into housing first programs, it would save communities a good deal of resources and money, which could then be used to help other homeless people.  This concept assumes that Chronically Homeless people are frequent users of community resources.  They are the homeless who are often arrested by the police, visit the hospital ER more than most people, etc.  (Being that they are homeless, they have no way of paying for those services so the community has to eat the costs.)

The problem is that many Chronically Homeless people are not "frequent users" of community resources.   Yes, those homeless people who do use an excessive amount of community services are undoubtedly chronically homeless.   But, the assumption that being chronically homeless equates to frequent user is a non sequitur.   The logic does not follow.

When a community considers which homeless people to put into their Housing First program, they aren't really looking for Chronically Homeless people, but are looking for the frequent users.   Because of this many Chronically Homeless people do not get the help they need to get off the streets.

So, be wary of a community that claims they are ending, or have ended, chronic homelessness.  Most likely they haven't gotten to everyone.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homeless Terms To Know - Permanent Supportive Housing


Now this is a real thing - "permanent supportive housing" is the name (or description) of the services given to chronically homeless people who are participating in a "Housing First" program.  Whenever chronically homeless people are placed in a "Housing First" program, they are NOT then abandoned and expected to figure the rest out by themselves.  (Some critics of 'Housing First" will accuse the program of this very thing, of abandoning the homeless once they are housed, but it's just not true.)   When I was accepted into a "Housing First" program, I was introduced to the team of case managers who would be assisting me, before I was ever placed in housing.  Actually it was this team who secured my SRO for me.  And this took some time.

This team of case managers, along with my SRO, comprised my permanent supportive housing.    This sometimes goes by other names as well - Wrap Around Services - Continuum of Care - although they are not always so "permanent".   The "permanent" part is necessary for the care of chronically homeless people because it has been determined that the chronically homeless will never possess the skills necessary for truly independent living - without this care they will most certainly return to the streets.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One of San Diego’s Most Successful Homeless Programs Is Out of Money

Thirty-four of the most frequent homeless users of San Diego’s emergency services cost taxpayers and hospitals $4.3 million in responses to 911 calls and other public safety needs in 2010. Take those same people, put them in a house, give them preventative medical care and access to round-the-clock case workers, and the costs drop to $2.2 million in 2013.
One of San Diego’s Most Successful Homeless Programs Is Out of Money