Thursday, April 17, 2008

Erradicating Homelessness in Fort Worth, Texas

I'm not a believer in one size fits all approach (most of the time). So, it is frustrating to see Ft. Worth's Mayor, other City leaders and some non profit orgs. push for PSH (Permanent Supportive Housing) as the top priority in "erradicating" our homeless population here in Cowtown, Texas. So what that we are the "only major City in the U.S." that doesn't have a 10 Yr. Homeless Plan!" Don't let Peer Pressure get to you, Ft. Worth. However, there is a significant homeless population and yes we need a plan of dealing with it, but because we are the only ones w/out one, isn't a good reason to have one, IMO. I really sort of dislike using the word "homeless" because most all of them have homes -- they are located in tax paid or privately owned bushes, easements, tax paid streets, sidewalks, alleys, shelters, programs, vacant buildings, vacant houses, parks, and/or lands.

When I specifically asked, Otis Thornton (City of Fort Worth's Homelessness Coordinator), what the City was doing about a few of the top three "root causes" of Homelessness (as per my non-scientific study): Lack of Job due to Criminal Record & Bothering Childhood Memories such as Irresponsible/Non-nuturing/Non-Involved Parenting which allowed them to stay drunk at 14, or doing drugs at 12, pregnancy at 13-16, high school drop outs, and have been looking for love or a way to ease their pain ever since their childhood. Otis' response was that basically those were poverty issues and the the City of Fort Worth can't solve social poverty issues of our Nation here in Cowtown. The great part is that Otis asked for suggestions, so that was a positive.
Common sense tells me that if we really are planning to erradicate homelessness, or even make it a rare occurence, how can we possibly do it w/out investing in erradicating root causes? IMO, we can't. It's really not rocket science. Is it just me?


Ellis Roberts said...

I've helped create a blog where I've posted compelling stories collected from the San Antonio homeless community in the hopes of broadening the perspective about these individuals who happen to find themselves homeless:

I hope you can visit this site!

Suzette said...

Ellis - Thanks for the information. Our local paper is doing video stories of some of our homeless here in Ft. Worth, you can probably find it at search for "I am homeless." I am all for helping (not enabling) our homeless population. However, there seems to not be enough of us broadening the perspective about these individuals who happen to find themselves homeless and who are not doing anything (putting forth any effort whatsoever) to change their situation and expecting more and more from the taxpayers. Also, we aren't, as communities and as a society, addressing the root causes such as:
2. No good paying jobs for x-cons.
1. Parents not assuming the responsibilites of their young children.
(I switched the order but didn't want to retype it. :) )

We aren't holding people accountable like we should in order to really change the direction of the Titanic. We, in Ft. Worth, aren't even doing small accountability initiatives.

To me, homelessness, in a large part, is a break down of our prison systems and a break down of our emotional health as a society. (responsible parenting) We need to really focus (spend millions) on at-risk children in the pre-school, and elementary levels and the parents of those children.

I could go on and on..thanks for reading.