Monday, February 11, 2008

"No Longer Homeless"

In case you missed it, Seth Rosen has an excellent piece in today's Progress about the merits and costs of providing supportive housing for the chronically homeless. Charlottesville has about 2-3 dozen residents who have been living on our streets for years and who are struggling with some sort of severe mental disorder. Over the past four winters, we at PACEM have gotten to know them all. In the bad old days, many if not most of them would be warehoused in state institutions by now, typically against their will. Starting in the 1960s, however, this country launched a broad "deinstitutionalization" campaign and pledged to invest in community-based care for the mentally ill. Well, no surprise: we never fulfilled that pledge. As a result, many people fell through the cracks and ended up right out on the streets. Many others continue to do so today. A critical component -- nay, THE critical component -- of a successful strategy of community-based care is supportive housing. It's heartening to see that Charlottesville is finally coming to understand that supportive housing for the chronically homeless not only improves their quality of life (and ours), it also saves us money. Ironically enough, you see, in many cases it costs more to keep people out on the streets than it does to provide them with stable housing and support services. For more info., read Seth's article here.

1 comment:

jcornelius said...

Mr. Rosen is one of a few journalists in this area who have invested time and effort to become knowledgeable about homelessness and its remedies. This article is an important part of the whole story, which is much better covered here than in most places.