We believe three things about homelessness.
1. Homelessness injures the individual.
2. Homelessness injures our community.
3. Homelessness injures our humanity.
Move through the slides to the right to learn more.
When a person finds themselves without housing their life becomes extremely difficult to manage. The toll is not just financial; it is emotional too. Because of a lack of resources, individuals without housing become more willing to pay for expensive motel rooms or move into bad situations in an effort to alleviate the pain of homelessness.
For those already on the street, having limited or no access to home spaces (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc.) is incredibly stressful, and using substances to cope becomes a great option for relief from that stress.
Being able to make good financial and emotional choices becomes increasingly hard for those who do not feel secure in their housing.
Our goal is to see homelessness not as the end result of a person's bad luck or poor choices, but as a hurdle to their wellness. When communities takes this perspective they help their homeless members become responsible for their well being, rather than penalizing them for bad luck or poor choices.
This approach works.
So how does The Way Home do it?
We communicate an expectation that each resident is to sustain their housing by making responsible financial and emotional choices. By dealing with homelessness as a cause, we are able to address the problems that face the homeless community in a new way.
Homelessness exacerbates financial pressure on the emergency system, state medical resources, relief programs, police resources and social services. The Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the cost to the government is between $40,000 to $150,000 per homeless person per year for these types of services.
The cost of homelessness is not simply a matter of dollars. Homelessness destabilizes the community as a whole. This instability often shows up as drugs, theft and violence. Since it is the community that pays the price, part of the solution has to be the community itself.
The U.S. government's solution is to pay these costs out of pocket. For them to house a homeless person costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000 each year. But The Way Home can do it for less than $5,000 a year by sharing the cost with the individual and using a community donor model for funding.
The Way Home develops the local culture by bringing in volunteers and working with the residents to better the neighborhoods where they reside. With no deadlines, our residents are encouraged to make their house a home and to commit to living well in their local area.
We are able to recognize how much in common we share with our family and friends. The thought of having a loved one homeless is enough to open rooms and couches and to convince us brainstorm new solutions for them.
But for many, the loss of these family and friend connections means that these intimate approaches are not possible. The streets, prisons, and inpatient hospitals are the only options left.
The end result is an entire community of people who have a shared identity that is marked by loneliness, loss, addiction, violence, and, ultimately, feeling less than human. Our culture reinforces this identity when it engages the homeless community with distrust, fear, and revulsion.
Homelessness exists in our backyard whether we like it or not. These are our neighbors -- even if they don't live in a house. The Way Home looks to find ways of encouraging our friends and neighbors to engage the homeless community. By doing community projects, raising awareness, and engaging social or religious communities The Way Home works to pull down the social barriers that can make those in homelessness feel less than human. Our residents learn to care for not only their home, but for their neighborhoods, and as a result they are treated better by the community.