Only Just Begun

Isabelle Walker’s excellent article on the “Vulnerability Index Report” of the local homeless population brings us both good news and bad news.

First the good news: There are “hundreds of people from across generations” in our community who care enough about the homeless to give their time and persistent energy to try to learn the facts about them.

Now the bad news: The facts put forth in the article about the homeless are both discouraging and disconcerting, especially for those working to alleviate the problem by providing housing:

More than half have mental illness.

More than 3/4 have spent time in jail during the past year alone.

Nearly half are from out of town.

More than half are alcoholics and nearly half have other drug addictions.

There are very high percentages of HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B or C (nearly half have it), and traumatic brain injury.

The point is that the above conditions will still exist and require community resources even if and when housing would be provided. And while fewer might actually be sleeping on the streets, they will still be occupying the parks and benches during the day.

So the conclusion can only be that “affordable housing” is not the answer; at best it might be the beginning of some answers for some people. But enormous challenges remain, as is apparent from this well-written article.

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