Project: We See You (February) – Making a House a Home.
Already eight days into the month, and I’m just getting around to publishing this!
I really must love the pressure or something.
Now, to share with you the February installment of Project: We See You.
The good people at the Houston Coalition for the Homeless are collecting supplies for a number of homeless who now, thanks to so many, finally HAVE A HOME!
But, a house with nothing in it really isn’t a home at all…in the true sense of the word, anyway.
These people have fought tremendous odds their entire lives.
No, they aren’t lazy.
No, they aren’t moochers.
No, they aren’t trying to take advantage of the system.
Trust me when I say that they do not want to be who they are, or where they are. My guess is they’re already hard enough on themselves, without needing the extra judgement and side-eye of society, all of which are unproductive and damaging to the cause.
(If you don’t have anything nice to say….)
Luckily, there are people who are putting their heads together, thinking up new ways to help the homeless. Because, obviously, what we as a society have been doing isn’t working, and isn’t nearly enough.
Many cities are joining in a new Housing First approach, in an attempt to tackle the homeless epidemic from a different direction.
The lovely Whitney, of the Coalition, explained it to me in more detail.
“There are thousands of people in Houston who have lived outside for long periods of time, and who have severe enough issues with mental health and/or addictions that keeping a home is extremely challenging. When you talk to these neighbors of ours, you learn that their lives have been anything but easy, and oftentimes beginning as infants or young children were dealt the hand of sexual, physical, emotional abuse or neglect. Research has shown that when our brain develops in this environment, it is limited in its ability to experience feelings of happiness and security, and many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to experience those feelings. ‘To expect an addict to give up her drug is like asking the average person to imagine living without all his social skills, support networks, emotional stability, and sense of physical and psychological comfort. Those are the qualities that drugs, in their illusory and evanescent way, give the addict,’ according to Gabor Mate, a doctor who works with chronic substance abusers. The hopeful thing is that our brains have extraordinary abilities to heal when surrounded with communities of support and opportunity. In addition to our neighbors dealing with substance abuse issues, there are many people for whom mental illness has made exiting homelessness extremely challenging. For people in these situations, permanent supportive housing can be a key to identifying the support needed for find stability in housing and health care. While it might seem counter-intuitive to give someone a home before they address the issues that lead to their housing crisis to begin with, all of the evidence proves that it is much easier to work on issues of addiction, mental health, and other issues people are experiencing when their days are not consumed with looking for a safe place to sleep at night and the difficulties of surviving outside.
Houston currently has more than 3,000 permanent supportive housing units and providers are working diligently to ensure that appropriate housing options are available for even people with the most challenging needs. A collaborative of providers are working together to house at least 165 people, who are chronically homeless with behavioral health issues, exit homelessness over the next 2 ½ years. Through use of housing authority vouchers, intensive case management, peer to peer recovery support, and access to health care, 10 people have already moved into their apartments since the end of December, and another 20 will have moved in by the end of March. While it might seem almost too good to be true to many of the people exiting homelessness, the vouchers are theirs to use for as long as they need them, and we are doing everything we can to help overcome issues that might lead to risking losing their housing again! The grant funds are able to purchase a bed and table and chairs for each household, but we know that much more is needed to help make their apartments into homes. We would love help in securing additional items.”
If you would like to learn more, I urge you to take some time, click on the link below, and watch the video. It really helped me gain a much better understanding of the housing first approach.
Below I’ve listed some of the items needed most.
· Shower Curtains and rings
· Vacuum Cleaners
· Shampoo and soap
· Pots and pans and dishes
So, if you’re interested in helping, and have an old broom, some pots, pans, and plates, or anything else you think would help, contact me, and I’ll arrange a way for you to get it here! Or, you can always leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you.
Also, Whitney recommended I read Gabor Mate’s book, “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts,” for a real eye-opener as to what a lot of these people have experienced, and what led them to a life without.
You guys have been tremendous. And, I certainly don’t expect you to just keep giving and giving and giving every time I ask! But, at the very least, I urge you to explore your own community’s homeless services and ask them how you can become involved!
It takes a village to give someone a village, right?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for always being so inspiring and supportive of all I’m trying to accomplish.
Cliche as it is, I could not have done any of it without you.
Have an awesome weekend!