New Partners Reach Out to Homeless

These updates are from around the country are from KnowledgePlex.

The Boston Housing Authority is partnering with the homeless shelter system on a new effort to connect homeless people with public housing, reported The Boston Herald. Under the new Common Ground Housing Initiative, joint street teams of BHA staff and shelter workers are canvassing the area near the Boston Common to find homeless people. The transients are given applications to sign up for BHA housing units. In the program’s first week, nearly 150 homeless people filled out applications. The initiative springs in part from the city’s decision to enforce an 11 p.m. curfew on the Common in response to shootings and other violations occurring in the park. According to the city’s emergency shelter commission director, the initiative fits with Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s goal to move homeless people from temporary shelter to permanent housing, and could become a model for other cities.

As part of the new “Operation Rescue,” Dallas police and crisis intervention workers are urging homeless people found living on the streets to enter treatment facilities, reported The Dallas Morning News. The initiative seeks to diffuse the crime hot-spots that are occurring in large areas where homeless people and those who prey on them gather, said the city’s deputy police chief. If homeless people refuse assistance, police officers will enforce ordinances against public sleeping, obstructing sidewalks, criminal trespassing, and urinating or defecating in public, he said. The effort, which also aims to prevent people from dying on the streets, could be stymied by the shortage of mental health and substance abuse treatment options in the city, said the manager of the city’s crisis intervention network.   

A new pilot program in West Palm Beach, Fla., will rely on formerly homeless people to counsel people currently living on the streets, reported the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. The program is operated by Lord’s Place, a nonprofit that offers cooking classes, counseling, and computer access to homeless people seeking to change their lives. In mid-October, Lord’s Place plans to open a new Engagement Center with a furnished living room, and family room with toys and computers. Chronically homeless people can come to the center to relax, watch TV, and “talk to people … who were once in their shoes” without committing to counseling. During the Center’s first six months, a team will assess the program’s success. Atlanta and Seattle have similar programs, the article said.

Housing Authority Workers Take Message to Streets
09/14/2007 | The Boston Herald
Dallas Will Shift Homeless into Shelters or Treatment
09/13/2007 | The Dallas Morning News (Texas)
Ex-Homeless to Show the Way in New Program
09/13/2007 | Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)