Today’s Boston Globe has a column written by Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray about the progress made in ending homelessness by emphacizing housing over shelters. Tim Murray’s column A new approach is being managed by a new division of state government, Division of Housing Stabilization within Housing and Community Development manages housing now – ending homelessness has been moved from welfare to community development. This makes sense. Division of Housing Stabilization website
As Tim Murray says in his editorial-style column:
Preventing homelessness means keeping children stable in one school, almost guaranteeing better academic performance. It saves school districts the cost of transporting children back to their previous school, if their family chooses, and it enables people to find and keep jobs more easily because they are not being shuttled between relatives’ or friends’ houses and shelters. Moreover, helping people stay in their homes costs a fraction of what it costs to house a family in a shelter or motel.
According to Murray, there has been a fundamental change in philosophy and approach in dealing with homelessness:
….we have shifted our approach on homelessness from a sheltering model to a “housing first” model. We have overhauled the state’s existing emergency shelter system and reorganized the state agencies that provide homelessness services.
For those who track statistics, the intractable nature of homelessness is documented here: homelessness statistics
One of many problems in the past had been when my homeless clients were offered housing that meant their children would have to change schools – sometimes multiple times, losing academic years in the process; or my clients who did not have cars would lose the very jobs they were using to claw their way back to independence. This has also been addressed in changing the regulations as to what constitutes safe and appropriate housing. New housing regs in the CMR
This initiative involves private grant money, stimulus money, and some state money – but also a major change in attitude and in who administers the “housing first” program, and the attitudes written into the program itself. Viewing getting our residents into housing as community development – not welfare – is a revolutionary change in attitude.
My thanks to Lt. Gov. Murray for his work on this program and a clear, commonsense column.