Everything about homelessness in the U.S. is changing. People are no longer satisfied with “business as usual”, so effort is being put into developing better ways of dealing with homelessness. And this effort is paying off.
Still, there is some resistance to this change, and I’m sure it will take some time for everyone to come around. Homeless shelters and other facilities have been doing things a certain way for many decades, it will be difficult for them to adapt to the new.
Most resistance comes from faith based organizations because their religion is tied together with the homeless issue. Wherever this happens, it will be important to untangle the knot that was created in faith based homeless facilities, so to be able to move forward.
Just don’t get me wrong on the issue of homelessness and religion – if your faith moves you to provide help to the less fortunate, that’s a good thing. The trouble starts when people begin justifying homelessness with religion, or religion with homelessness. It is wrong – no, actually it’s an outright lie – to say that god makes people homeless, or that the only way out of homelessness is through converting to a religion. I have heard such things said in faith based homeless facilities countless times. It’s just not true.
But, I digress.
A big part of the change coming to the homelessness industry is a higher level of accountability. It used to be that homeless facilities tried to hold the homeless accountable for their actions, but now the homeless facilities themselves are being held accountable. No longer will be society be satisfied with the status quo regarding homeless shelters. Society wants to see progress being made. Society now wants to see homelessness come to an end. And society expects the homeless facilities, that they have been supporting for many years, to lead the way.
To that end, the Homeless Management Information System, (HMIS) was created. It is basically a databank which stores generic information about progress made by the homeless. The HMIS lets interested parties know current trends within homelessness and whether or not facilities are reaching certain goals. If you are interested in doing more for the homeless than just handing out bag lunches, you’ll want to get yourself connected to an organization or facility that participates in the “Continuum of Care Program” which reports to the HMIS.