138 Million

Los Angeles

“We are here to end the homeless problem” said the man in the high position. His announcement was coming from a public radio news coverage. 

At this point of June 2nd of 2017, they've spent half of the $138M proposal to end homelessness in Los Angeles. The other remaining half was suppose to come from selling properties owned by commercial businesses and government sector. None of them have been sold so far (The news reporter said, those in charge were not able to sell them like they expected).

A thought crosses my mind.

A homeless person not having the will to work (perhaps due to drug addiction or psychological illness), cannot be able to take full advantage of an opportunity. Even if it were handed to them like “Here you go, here is your new house”, it is likely to get trashed up, not taken care of, if they are still abusing drugs; they may decide to go back out on the street and score, not even live in the house.
What would be more effective then?
One way I see more light in is to spend that money on rehabilitation programs.

If the government were to build more rehab centers, for example, in the middle of the skid row it can be strategically advantageous. Rehab centers should be built in junction with new housing so that treatment and refuge from the street can happen simultaneously and progressively. However, the government should take heed and keep in mind, "even when there is funding, good will and an open piece of land" getting everyone to agree can be met with oppositions. "A proposal... has been blocked by a City Council committee after running up against a wall of opposition." As Jose Huizar, who was also one of the leaders of the campaign to pass the homeless housing bond has said, “You cannot force a project onto a community at all costs.”

Taking that warning into account, there must be a consideration taken for the homeless person's mental state. Having a "clean mind" is an ongoing process and it means to be able to resist or control the addiction by using one’s sound judgement or reasoning. One must have the will. And the purpose of the rehab center is to channel their addiction into something else that is productive for themselves and society.

These treatments and professional would be funded from the $138M money pool but I believe this won't work if they simply took a homeless person off the street and put them in “new housing”, just as it won't work to simply lock up law offenders to reform behavior.

Objectively determining if the person should be taken to a rehab super center or not is crucial.
For example, an individual with a clean-mind who happens to face economic hardship should be given a job instead so they can self sustain again. So another idea here is to have an Economic hardship center (a type of career center, job placement center with extended capabilities).
As part of the objective determining, a blood test can be used to determine the degree of an individual's drug use (recreational use to addict use). If they are clear of addictions, they will be presented with socially and economically integrative paths to take (job and housing opportunities).

Each admitted patients should be recorded for their progress or digressions. Is this their first time, or are they having a relapse? What happens to individuals who do not want to “get clean” nor get back into society? Then this may present some irony of freewill. It means that that too is up to the individual ultimately, so be it a bad choice, the individual has the right to choose. Will we waste money or have enough money to keep up a dance with this person who just go in and out of the rehab facility? Maybe we will. But the center is there for those individuals as well because first and foremost, the reason for its existence is to end homelessness and it will be a “home” for them (at least it will be something that will provide a roof over their heads for them while they are there).

After a drug test, there will be job placements that will take place; trash collection/recycle the city project, assist other homeless, educate other homeless, cook for other homeless, renewable energy sector and jobs from public and private sectors, etc. Doing an interview to determine their skill sets will not be considered effective at this time because to hire a skilled interviewer that can determine and analyze these things can cost a lot of money that may not be worth the use. By placing them in jobs that are preset determined by the system will also act as a test or filter to see if the individual can keep up or have the actual will to work; it also builds resilience. As part of the rehabilitation, various entrepreneurs and hiring officers will come to speak on what companies are looking for, who they hire (for example, people with good hygiene), what characteristic job searchers should build (for example, a prompt person, someone diligent, proactive person), inspirational talks on what their company does and individuals can become part of, etc. And there should be coaching about them; that will incorporate and breakdown those values. There will be a “lifeskill-coach” that teaches these things at each of the rehab super centers.

Then once they are given jobs, they will simultaneously be given housing; ultra low rent housing that they must pay a portion from their paycheck, just like the rest of the society. They will be under review, takes place every month, in exchange for the affordable housing. After the first year, reviews should become less often (every 3 months, then 6 months, etc), in a progressive manner. The living style will be humble, but never subpar. It will have dignity. Then there are ways to move out and move up, if so they wish. One can take educational courses and classes every evening or weekends, that will directly become an asset after completion. They can use real skills and knowledge for job search. The lifeskill-coaches will also be assigned, like a psychiatrist. 

For the drug addicts, they will have a place to live, but it is more of a hospitalization. They do not get the freedom of living in ‘free housing’. Such thing is ineffective to solve the problem and will not be given. The aim is to end homelessness, and if the cause comes from psychological and physiological, it must be solved from a medical science approach. And rehabilitation is not a quick fix or a cure. It is a place to guide individuals so that they themselves can ultimately become strong and stand up for themselves. The goal is to build and train healthy minds and strong individuals that can earn their living. The centers are there to assist them with this, and believe in them, with dignity and humanity.

What happens though if they simply don’t want to work?
What can society do to “motivate” them?
Do we simply kick them out of their housing and make them live on the streets again? No.
Then do we simply give them “free” housing? No.
How about a system like social security? But that goes to those that paid their dues to society and paid taxes while they worked.
What happens to those that never really worked and paid taxes? Do they get a freebie and benefit off of those that worked hard? No, that would be unfair.
The individuals who have given up the will to work and earn for themselves is difficult to work with. Changing the mindset is hard, but not impossible. 
Perhaps the lack of motivation comes from a psychological problem, like addiction, and that can be rehabilitated.
The process then goes back to the treatment/assist method.
Will it be a waster of our money? 
Paying for all these services and educators that are there to serve the homeless people, which some of them may never completely recover and pay the consequence of bad choices with their own lives.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a waste of our money to use it to end homelessness if it is within our duty of benevolence (within reasonable boundaries that don’t make us suffer); paying a portion of tax from both private and public sector. I believe more of those with broken lives will receive the opportunity to make things better.
They will have a place to live, but it will not be in the comfort of their own houses/flats; it will be rooms, clean and livable, but with the pretext that they are there for rehabilitation.

Finally, a thing to note about rehab centers, hospitals, or psych wards are that they have a creepy image to them. When it comes to rounding up individuals having “psychological problems”, it may turn out to become one of those classical looney bins. With big guards that come and beat you or drug you/sedate you as soon as things get out of hands. And from the outside, they make an effort to cover things up and make everything look fine. It is absolutely important to have a good, fair, and effective checks&balances system to prevent internal corruption from happening.  


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