Ralph da Costa Nunez, President of the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness has been a staunch critic of the current federal policy to combat homelessness. In a recent post for the Huffington Post, de Costa Nunez rightly points out that “homelessness isn’t and never has been simply about housing; its about housing stability, a family’s ability to maintain a stable housing situation.”
De Costa Nunez lays out a “new path” to end family homelessness by proposing the restructuring of shelter services to become educational, employment, and social service resource centers. His vision is a kind of one-stop-shop for shelter residents to gain the skills and resources necessary to become stable tenants. You can read his full post here.
This new path is a great start to being to undo the damage of the current “Housing Only” policy, promoted by HUD and taken up by so many communities. Not only has billions of dollars been allocated to provide no-strings attached free housing for the street homeless, communities have been sold a bill of good that such an approach will end homelessness.
The dissatisfaction and ineffectiveness of the current policy has led those across the country committed to solving homelessness to demand reforms to the current policy towards a “Housing Plus” approach – one that provides sufficient services to ensure housing stability. They recognize that Housing Only is not only unsustainable, but that it does little to solve deep poverty and break the intergenerational cycle of homelessness, dysfunction, and addiction.
At Solutions for Change, we go beyond the goal of housing stability. Our 1,000-day Solutions University equips homeless families with the tools, resources and knowledge to never become homeless again. It’s a program that builds leadership, resiliency, and responsibility so that those, who at one point, were the objects of service and compassion, are excited to serve others and demonstrate the power of a transformed life.
We are working to create new paths for the hundreds of families we serve every day. These paths include new jobs, the completion of GEDs, money saved to purchase a reliable vehicle, and strengthened connections between once-homeless parents and their once-homeless children. It’s more than housing stability – its family stability.