Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hope for the Homeless

The NY Times has an article today about the drop in "chronically" homeless people in the United States. The drop is due to a change in strategy by the federal government which focuses funding and energy on "finding stable housing for homeless people suffering from drug addiction, mental illness or physical disabilities, long deemed the hardest to help in the homeless population."

This is especially relevant for St. Joseph and its faith communities. Community Missions Corporation, which was founded by InterServ, which in turn was founded and supported in part by faith communities, runs Juda House--a shelter for chronically homeless men, the Cold Weather Shelter for homeless men and has begun construction on Safe Haven, a second shelter for chronically homeless men which will open in early 2009. I spoke up in support of Safe Haven at a city council meeting and wrote letters to the city council members. There was some limited opposition to building a second shelter, largely based on fears that we would attract homeless people from places far and wide if word got out St. Joseph cared for such people. The flaws in such thinking are obvious.

As the article shows, getting chronically homeless individuals in a stable setting that provides help with issues like addiction, mental illness and health issues actually works to help these people break the cycle of homelessness.

The article also shows that while the numbers of chronically homeless people may be going down, the number of homeless people overall is increasing due in large part to the downturn in the economy. More will need to be done at every level to address the need for safe and affordable housing. That need exists in St. Joseph, just as it does everywhere else.

Grace and Peace,


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