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Critical Solutions Paper on Homelessness

Essay by   •  July 21, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,597 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,741 Views

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Abstract

The issue of homelessness was examined in respect to available options for individuals who find themselves with immediate needs to those who are considered to be chronically homeless. The plans developed by several cities were analyzed to see what could be used as a best practice guideline for other cities to utilize.

Keywords: homelessness, shelter options, city plans to end homelessness

Critical Solutions Paper - Homelessness

Homelessness is a growing epidemic in the United States. It is also a growing problem in the state of Arizona and the City of Tempe. The definition of homeless in the City of Tempe follows federal guidelines. To be considered homeless, a person must "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence" (City of Tempe/Housing, Housing and Urban Development, 2011). There are many reasons that people end up homeless, some of which are as follows: home foreclosures, job loss, major medical crisis, mental illness, and drug or alcohol abuse. How many people are currently homeless in Tempe? Where would someone go to find resources to help the homeless in Tempe? Since the City of Tempe does not have shelters, where does the homeless population sleep? What plan does Tempe currently have in place? What types of plans have the cities of Denver, Knoxville, and San Francisco developed to end homelessness?

In 2010, the homeless count in Tempe grew to 155 people within the city limits. Families have become the fastest growing group affected. (Tempe Community Council, 2010). The City of Tempe's website offers a list of nonprofit agencies with the information shown for the services each provides. Tempe does not have a formal shelter to assist the homeless. There are several local organizations that are working to help with the issue by providing transitional to emergency shelter services. Homeward Bound, A New Leaf, and Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) with Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (IHELP) each have programs that help the homeless.

The mission of Homeward Bound is to "assist families achieve economic independence, secure long-term, safe, decent, affordable housing and break multi-generational cycles of homelessness and domestic violence" (Homeward Bound, n.d., Overview, para. 1). Homeward Bound provides families with transitional housing and only asks them to contribute 30 percent of their adjusted gross income to cover expenses related to housing, utilities, and support services that are provided ("Homeward Bound", n.d.). The goal of Homeward Bound is to provide safe housing while educating the participants with life skills that will allow them to transition to permanent housing. Each family is assigned a case manager to work with them on necessary areas of "budgeting, nutrition, and household and time management" ("Homeward Bound", n.d., Programs & Services, para. 1). It also offers employment services, adult and children services, mental health counseling, and childcare options. A specific program offered is entitled Kids in Trauma (KIT). This program focuses on the effects on children who have been victims of homelessness, domestic violence, and/or abuse hoping to help these children become whole ("Homeward Bound", n.d.).

A New Leaf is a forty-year-old organization providing "homeless and domestic violence shelters, youth and community programs" ("A New Leaf", 2010, para. 1). A New Leaf offers three different shelter types: La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter, East Valley Men's Center, and the Empower Transitional Living Program. La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter is a transitional shelter for families with children under age 18. This center offers many of the same services that can be found through Homeward Bound (La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter Fact Sheet, 2010). The East Valley Men's Center offers shelter and programs that help residents in "becoming productive and contributing members of society" (East Valley Men's Center Fact Sheet, 2010, para. 3). The Empower Transitional Living Program is designed to assist homeless who are 18-25 years-old. This program has an emphasis on children who will age-out of the foster care system and find themselves without a place to live (Empower Transitional Living Program Fact Sheet, 2010).

Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) in collaboration with the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (IHELP) provides nightly lodging, meals, and a mobile shower unit to Tempe's homeless. IHELP is able to provide nightly shelter to approximately 30 people. The homeless participates are chosen based on a lottery system. The homeless with proof that they are employed are guaranteed a spot for the night. On a rotating basis, 25 churches provide shelter and meals each night. In May 2010, IHELP was able to add a mobile shower. By having access to shower services, the people who use the shelter are able to interview for work and retain jobs. (Tempe Community Action Agency, n.d.; Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program, n.d.).

All of the organizations mentioned rely on donations from any combination of the following: individuals, corporate sponsors, the United Way, the Salvation Army and city, state, and federal funding. Each agency also relies on the kindness of numerous volunteers to achieve its many success stories.

Homelessness in Tempe and the United States continues to be a growing statistic. Cities must develop long-term plans directed at solving the issue of homelessness. There are several cities: such as Denver, Knoxville, and San Francisco that have developed multi-year plans to end homelessness. The City of Tempe has a 3-5 year strategic plan. A common priority goal within these plans is permanent housing. These cities are using a methodology called "Housing First." The main

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