Ok, so, before I go to far I’ll start by saying that “I don’t think this will end or cure the homeless problem. It’s just a start to ease the homeless problem.”
When it comes to homelessness there are a variety of issues that need to be dealt with and there are a number of reasons why people end up homeless. Some people have mental issues some are severe and others are mild. Some people mental issues are so great that holding down a full or even part time job is almost impossible. Others may be able to hold down jobs but need some help and guidance when working.
My “solution” is targeted at those people who end up homeless due to circumstances, like loosing a job, a divorce, a death in the family, violence in the home etc… These people end up homeless and a lot of time end up using drugs and alcohol to cope with the situation. With a little help these folks can make a comeback and be productive members of society. Can the mentally ill be helped? Of course they can, but my focus today is on the latter.
The cost of dealing with homeless drug and alcohol infested humans is great. I’ve read some articles that the cost is somewhere around 50 to 100 thousand a year. These costs are associated with emergency hospital visits, ambulances, crime and policing, increase in drug trafficking and more.
So, how could a city better use tax payers money? Here’s one idea I had.
Imagine a building in your downtown, this building has four separate areas.
- Sleeping quarters: This part of the building would house a specific “type” of homeless people. This “type” would be people who have the ability to hold down at minimum a part-time job, say, 15 hours a week or more. These folks would be given a room the size would be big enough to hold a bed, a dresser and a small table. Bathrooms would be shared. There would be a sleeping quarters for both men and women.
- The recycling depot: This area would be where people could bring in their bottles for recycling and collect their money. The recycling center would offer two things.
1. You could get money for your bottles at the going rate.
2. You could get “credit” for your bottles at two time the going rate. (more about the credit system later.
- The thrift store: One way to fund the project would be through the sale of used goods.
- The restaurant: The last block of the building would be used as a restaurant. Where people could come support the building and where homeless people could come and eat.
A little more details about the whole works. The idea would be that the entire building would be run with the help of those living there. Before I go to far, I would like to says that the numbers are throwing out are just examples of time and money, and that I use them for illustration purposes only. More time may be needed for different folks.
Each of the departments will need staff, the recycling center would need about 7 employees with 3 managers, thrift store would need say 10 employees and 3 managers and the restaurant would need 15 employees with 3 managers.
The entire operation would be run by the homeless people living in the sleeping quarters. These people would be trained in every department. First they would start at the recycling center, then move to the thrift store then to the restaurant. Each person would have 6 to 8 months training in each of the departments. This would give them life skills and help them build self worth, confidence and a resume. For the first eight weeks they will be paid by “credit” and then make the move to real money.
Each individual will be given a “Credit Card” with their picture on it, so that it can’t be used by others. The account will be monitored so that if they lose their card they can get a new one without loosing the credit they’ve earned. This credit card can be gotten by anyone who returns bottles at the recycling center and credit can be earned by doing other things. (bringing in used needles or trash off the streets for example)
The restaurant will be used as a restaurant and a soup kitchen, if you can’t afford a meal, it will be given to you. If you have credit you can use it to support the staff. The restaurant will used daily a la carte menus that will change depending on supplies that are available. When homeless people come in they will be seated at the table and asked what they want. They will be served by bussers and wait staff. I believe this will give them a sense of value and lift their spirits.
The thrift store will offer clothing in the same way, free if you can’t afford it and the use of credit. The store will also offer a laundry mat. This will allow people to come and have a shower, and wash their clothes. Small lockers will be available for storage of clothing and some small supplies.
As people learn and are able to move out of the building new people will come in and be trained on a regular basis. What I’ve given here is just a basic blue print for the system. I have not mentioned the training, schooling, reading, writing and public speaking courses that will be need to ensure the success of all people.
Sometimes all you need is just a little boost, someone to show you love and compassion, and then miracles can happen.
Chip and Honey Toodee