Denver recently passed an “outdoor camping ban” which, in practice, is simply a law making it illegal to be homeless. This is far from a solution to the homelessness problem, it will just move the homeless to surrounding cities and states. It made me think about actual solutions to homelessness in America.
The key to success in the United States is education. Given, education has to be coupled with hard work for long term success; education is the foundation for future success.
The homeless must be given a free, well-rounded education that puts them on a path for self-reliance in the future. This education should include personal finance, health, nutrition, interviewing skills, and anything needed to hold down a basic, entry level job.
After completing the necessary classes, the next step to getting off the street is having a job. There are plenty of jobs that a homeless individual could take on, even with minimal education, as long as they are willing to work at it.
Grocery stores need cart attendants and baggers, restaurants need dishwashers, lawn services need staff, buildings need janitors and maids, and so on. There is a long list of jobs that a homeless person is qualified for.
Success Focused Housing
To complete the class and hold down a job, the homeless will need a home. They need clothing, showers, food, and shelter. Low cost, temporary housing is another key to long term success.
To qualify for free housing, education, and job placement, the participant must follow a series of rules. The participant would be required to be both drug and alcohol free and participate in community activities to further their career and lifestyle potential.
Give Tools to Fix the Situation
At the end of the day, all of this, and anything else built into a homelessness program, should be preparing the homeless person for a self-reliant life. Medical assistance, mental health evaluations and treatment, alcohol and drug programs, housing, classes, and community involvement should be designed to help the homeless help themselves.
As the saying goes, give a man a fish and he is hungry in a day. Teach him to fish and he is set for life. If we teach the homeless to be responsible for their own life, and give them the tools and assistance to get started, they will be successful.
Don’t Give Welfare Forever
The program is not a lifetime safety net. If it is, it will fail. People need motivation to take care of themselves. The program needs a set schedule and an end date.
Society should be in the business of helping those in need, it should not be in the business of paying for people’s lives when they are fully capable of supporting themselves.
How would you work to solve the homelessness problem in America? What strategies do you think would actually solve the problem? Please share your constructive thoughts in the comments.