Zero homelessness is possible. According to the New York Times, “nine communities in the United States have reached a rigorous standard known as ‘functional zero’ for chronic homelessness – a standard that indicates homelessness is rare.”
In the healthcare sector, a collaborative methodology was first pioneered to keep infectious diseases from spreading. The sole existing program that has proven to reduce or eliminate homelessness over time is a similar methodology. Here in the Reno community, there are more than 1,000 men, women, and children that are homeless. In order to combat this, there needs to be a plan rather than accepting the difficult problem as unsolvable.
Phase One: Prevention, coordination, and planning.
“There are things we are already doing to prevent long-term homelessness. A great example is the relocation and expansion of the Eddy house, with a new focus on training homeless youth to help them acquire the skills they need to get a job to escape a life of chronic homelessness. As for planning, over the past year, our local governments established the Community Homeless Advisory Board (CHAB), which meets regularly to work collaboratively to develop solutions. The CHAB commissioned a study by OrgCode Consulting, implemented some of the report’s recommendations, and recently joined Built for Zero. This national program helps communities achieve the goal of ‘zero functional homeless.'”
Phase Two: Provide facilities that enable the separate of men and women/children.
“The Record Street campus is overcrowded and unsafe. With the state’s help, our local governments acquired the former Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS) campus. The campus was recently renovated and now provides homeless women and children wrap-around services in a safe environment as they engage in programs that move them on a path to self-sufficiency.”
Phase Three: Acquire land near the downtown and relocate the Record Street shelter.
“Setting up a safe and drug-free campus that provides a place for all citizens experiencing homelessness requires a larger area. There are ongoing plans to set up a campus that offers tents, accommodates pets and even campers in a secure environment where shelter, feeding, security, and wrap-around services are readily available.”
Phase Four: Address the funding needed to execute the plan.
“While there is some funding available to address our homelessness needs, the growing number of camps and working homeless, some as a result of pandemic related unemployment, is a clear indication that we must do more. While emergency shelter and food are vital, we need adequately funded wrap-around services and programs to help the homeless address and cope with some of the root causes of chronic homelessness, like drug and alcohol addiction.”
Phase Five: Aggressive enforcement and maintenance of the effort.
“Once the resources are in place, we must redirect our homeless to the resources and facilities to survive first, and eventually thrive. Getting more ambassadors and adding river rangers will help us identify and address new homeless. By avoiding the costs associated with cleaning up homeless encampments, countless emergency room incidents, and the diversion of our policing efforts, we will save resources that can address other community needs.”
Phase Six: Increase affordable housing.
“We continue to fall short of our growing housing needs, causing the cost of housing to go up due to supply and demand. These rising prices make it more difficult, if not impossible, for many people to find a place to live. That is why we must make every effort to encourage and support more housing construction, especially affordable housing.”
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Realtor® Sierra Nevada Properties