As I have just said, the best homeless shelter of all is no shelter at all. Instead, shelters would be replaced with small bureaucratic processing centers that will divert people away from homelessness and into permanent housing of one kind or another.
Every Homeless Reintegration Center will have three main types of resources available to allocate to the client.
The first is a funding stream. If a person has lost their job, but has not yet lost their home, the center can cut a check to the landlord so to keep the person in their home. If a person has lost their home, but is still employed, the center can also cut a check to cover first and last month’s rent, and utility deposits for whatever new place is found for the client. In each case the client is under an obligation to become and stay employed, and to take over rent payments after a certain time period has elapsed.
The second type of resource is that of employment and housing liaison. Each client will be assigned to a case manager who will help the client secure the kind of employment and housing that will be best for the client. The focus of this case manager will be to secure all the necessities for the client – a job that will generate enough income for a place, and a place that is affordable and near work and/or transportation, and all the other necessities of living, and will help with procuring furniture and kitchen supplies etc.
The third resource of the reintegration center will cover all the mental health and drug rehabiliation needs of the client. Depending on the needs of the client, a host of social workers and other professionals will be assigned to the client.
All the needs of the client will be determined at the first meeting in the Reintegration center. Before the client leaves the center at the end of the first day, they will have the funds and support necessary to either keep or attain their home.
Ideally, the client will have a home secured before the end of the day, and will not have to spend one night homeless.
At first, the center will focus on getting all current homeless people off the streets, and once that’s done, their job becomes one of prevention.
Every middle sized city, or larger, spends millions of dollars every year just managing the needs of homeless people without every really targeting the end of their homelessness. That money, usually in the ten to twenty million dollar range, would just as easily end homelessness, as manage it. Managing homelessness keeps homeless people on the streets, year after year. Ending homelessness is a win win for the city, because a city without homelessness is a better city, and because people endure untold suffering, illness, and death, while living on the streets. And getting them off the streets makes them better people. Best of all, with this program, homelessness becomes less and less expensive to deal with.