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  • What Does Hope Street Coalition Do?
    Hope Street Coalition advocates to change public policies - laws, regulations, funding priorities - to help people who are unhoused and untreated, and improve communities that are impacted by homelessness. Hope Street meets with elected officials from Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, to governors, state legislators, county executives, and mayors and city council members. We meet with this important policy makers to educate them and raise awareness about the inadequacy of existing policies and recommend changes. Hope Street also educates the public about the various laws and policies that contribute to the increase in homelessness and the lack of treatment and appropriate housing for people with serious mental illnesses and addictions. Through our newsletter and social media channels, Hope Street provides information on which to act and change the status quo. Hope Street Coalition is a true grass-roots organization with no salaried staff . Support goes to maintain the operation of the organization, to underwrite travel expenses to meet with policy and lawmakers, to produce videos and other material, and to engage communities. Please consider helping Hope Street with our work by donating to our cause. Hope Street is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the Internal Revenue Service making every dollar donated tax deductible. By signing up to receive information, you can be a part of Hope Street's efforts and work to change the failed policies that harm so many vulnerable people and negatively impact so many communities.
  • What can communities do to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness?
    Communities have struggled to reduce homelessness for years. Instead of helping, federal policies and strings attached to homelessness assistance funding burden communities. To qualify for federal funding to address homelessness, communities must adopt expensive, narrow, and ineffective top-down approaches and programming. Most federal funding does not help average-sized cities address the impacts homelessness has on their communities, such as increased demand on emergency services and damage to public spaces. Instead, federal funding is intent on setting up costly and complicated "systems" to house people. Communities can use their resources to make sure that local programs are effective and that services provide the right treatment and interventions to the right people. Communities can support effective local and faith-based organizations that provide specific services that don't harm their neighbors. Most importantly, communities can regulate public spaces for those that refuse the offer of housing and services and direct those who are clearly in need and unable to care for themselves to effective housing and services. Another thing that communities can do is to make sure that their Member of Congress understands what is and what is not working to address homelessness.
  • Is homelessness a housing issue?
    Homelessness is so much more than a housing issue. Sure, there needs to be more places of all types for people to go and there are a number of people who cannot afford the rent. The real issue is that the federal government has determined that one thing - the provision of housing - is the solution to a complex and diverse set of problems we have come to call homelessness. There is more funding for housing and more creation of housing for people experiencing homelessness than ever before. Yet, more and more people are living and dying on the street every year. What communities are recognizing, and what studies are confirming, is that homelessness has become more a function of untreated mental illness and addiction. Instead of continuing the current policies that emphasize the creation of housing, Hope Street Coalition seeks to change the focus away from only housing to the population that is untreated and unhoused. This population needs treatment and care integrated with housing to support their healing and stability. We call it Housing that Heals.
  • Why is homelessness increasing?
    Homelessness is increasing because public policies subsidize homelessness and the deadly root causes of homelessness. Instead of requiring rehabilitation, sobriety, job training, and clinical treatment, the federal homelessness policy prohibits those things. Therefore, people stay stick, poor, and unable to develop stability or self sufficiency. As Tom Wolf, a recovering addict from San Francisco's Tenderloin District and Founder and Director of the Pacific Alliance for Prevention and Recovery , says, "We make it easy to get high and hard to get treatment." That is why overdose deaths are sky rocketing nationally. The federal policy substitutes housing for mental illness and addiction treatment resulting in an exacerbation of these deadly and destructive problems and a worsening of the homelessness crisis. When people do not have places to go to get better from their illnesses, to get sober, to get trained to work, to get stabilized from mental illness, and to be supported in healthy behaviors, they often end up on the street where their lives and health further deteriorate. The current federal policies enable destructive behaviors and psychosis through free housing with no rules, free drug-use supplies, a tolerance for idleness, and encourages dependency on federal benefits and subsidies.
  • What is the distinction between "housing" and "settings"?
    One of the biggest challenges in addressing homelessness is what constitutes "housing." The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides grants to communities to develop and secure housing for certain qualified persons, often those with low incomes. HUD's definition of a housing unit is as follows: "a house, apartment, group of rooms, or single room occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters." What is not included in this definition is emergency shelters, group homes, adult residential facilities, shared housing, and couch surfing. HUD focuses on permanent supportive housing (PSH) as its main means of addressing homelessness. The permanent part of PSH means that the tenant can live in a housing unit indefinitely, usually through means of a lease. Prior to 2013, federal policy promoted transitional housing, which provides temporary housing (24 months ) with supportive services with the goal of interim stability and the longer-term goal of successfully moving into permanent housing.  The supportive part of PSH means that various services are required to be provided to tenants - but not accepted - to help them stay in housing. This means case management at the least, and could include a variety of services such as transportation, access to medical care, job training, and substance abuse treatment. "Could" is emphasized because all of these supportive services are required to be voluntary and are up to the housing project to decide which ones to offer. Tenants cannot be evicted for refusing to participate in voluntary services or programs. Another type of place that is not included in HUD's definition of housing are places that serve as settings for treatment, healing, or other goals. Most people who attended college lived in dorms that were semi-congregate settings where people shared kitchens, dining halls, common areas, and bathrooms. Dorms were temporary because after graduation, you were no longer allowed to live in the dorms. Rehab, hospitals, and long-term care facilities are not considered housing because, at some point, people move back home to complete their healing. However, for many, settings of therapeutic care, treatment, and community are necessary to maintain health, stabilty, and dignity. These include institutes of mental diseases (IMDs), skilled nursing facilities, adult residential facilities, board and care homes, group homes, sober living facilties, and others. People often live in these settings for months and years, depending on their conditions. And, in fact, for many currently living on the street with an untreated serious mental illness or chronic addiction, these settings are more appropriate and produce greater therapeutic outcomes than permanent supportive housing. Because homelessness assistance is biased exclusively toward permanent supportive housing, many with health conditions, such as untreated serious mental illness and untreated chronic addiction, are placed in places where they are denied adequate treatment and are practically guaranteed to fail. Those individuals should not be considered "homeless" and provided voluntary non-clinical "services." They should not sign a lease and be considered tenants. Instead, there should be a variety of settings - some housing, some recovery communities, some therapeutic - so that people can move up and down as appropriate to meet their particular needs so that the setting matches the individual.
  • What is the Connection Between Mental Illness and Addiction and Homelessness?
    Because of the lack of places that can adequately care for those with brain disorders, serious mental illnesses, and chronic addictions, people that suffer from these conditions are often homeless or in jail and prison. It is the tragic result of years of deinstitutionalization from state mental hospitals and the lack of public funding for treatment. Sadly, the policies and programs providing mental illness and addiction treatment are few, are difficult to access, are poor quality, and often don't meet the needs of this population. The policy in our country requires tragedy - that is, acts of violence, serious demonstrations of grave disability or inability to carry out life's daily activities, self-harm, or incarceration - before treatment is afforded. In addition, influential groups, under the guise of protecting the civil liberties of the disabled, work to thwart policy changes that would save lives and provide assistance before tragedy. They insist that treatment is torture, that all interventions should be voluntary - regardless of the inability of a person to understand the seriousness of their condition, and that treatment facilities are inherently cruel. Lastly, public policies are more apt to facilitate further addiction to powerful substances than to offer a way out through treatment. Government programs and funding promote "safe use" and harm reduction programs that prolong the misery of addiction. Little attention is given to recovery, detox, or abstinence programs that save and restore lives. Because government programs make it easy to deteriorate and hard to get treatment, those with serious mental illnesses and chronic addictions are relegated to the streets. Often, they cycle through homelessness, emergency rooms, jail, and shelters. Hope Street seeks to end this backwards policy and promotes treatment before tragedy and recovery first.
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