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How to deal with homelessness

Discussion in 'Personal' started by colacao17, Jan 23, 2020.

  1. colacao17

    colacao17 Occasional commenter


    The policy applied in Finland is called “HousingFirst”. It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.

    “Housing First”, on the other hand, reverses the path: Homeless people get a flat – without any preconditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general. In such a new, secure situation, it is easier for those affected to find a job and take care of their physical and mental health.

    The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with “Housing First” and lead a more stable life.

    In the last 10 years, the “Housing First” programme provided 4,600 homes in Finland. In 2017 there were still about 1,900 people living on the streets – but there were enough places for them in emergency shelters so that they at least didn’t have to sleep outside anymore.
    ajrowing likes this.
  2. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    It's a fundamentally obvious thing that not only is it a disgrace for a modern, rich society to have people sleeping rough on the streets, it's virtually impossible to escape, until you have the address the system requires, for you to get employment and appropriate medical treatment, the security needed to deal with mental health conditions and addiction, let alone be able to work towards any form of normality.

    No matter which agency you ask assistance from, whether it be medical services, an employment agency or even opening bank account, the first question you get asked for after they've taken your name is an address.

    You're going to be up againt it if all you can offer The doorway outside the closed Debbenhams, ain't you? Try to imagine how you'd get the post inviting you to a job interview, if the police move you on before the postman does his round.

    Try to imagine how you could prepare to get dressed for the interview, if you've spent the last six months without being able to have a wash or shave, turning up to the interview in the suit you had to sleep in and even if you carried an iron among your posessions, where would you plug it in?

    It's not like anyone can't comprehend the difficulties homeess people face. Geoge Orwell described it sufficiently well in Down and out in Paris and London, which will probably have been required reading in schools before the Thatcher era.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
    caress likes this.
  3. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Makes perfect sense. But the population density and distribution of Finland is much different to ours.
  4. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    That a pointless excuse. Our economy is far larger than the Finnish one with far more opportunity to find ways of dealing with homelessness than Finland has.

    To put it differently, we have an economy that doesn't rely on the fictional existence of Santa Claus to keep it ticking over. Fuxache, if they can get people off the streets and into housing, it says appallingly little about the compassion for its citizens our own government has had.

    Has anyone asked whether the cost of Brexit might have been better spent on housing our homeless and dramatically reducing rents and mortgages, so people can progress?
    caress, sbkrobson and ajrowing like this.
  5. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

  6. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    That's exactly what we were doing twenty years ago when I worked in a homeless hostel. There was some success but a lot of people abandoned their home and let other homeless people in. Locks were smashed, all the copper was stolen and there was loads of drug dealing and drug taking in the new doss house. The person with the tenancy might have been bullied out of their accommodation, but I recall a good few just walked away leaving chaos in their wake.

    We only had twenty-two residents. The sister hostel had over sixty. It was a city-wide community of chaos and I've lost count of the number who were dead within two years of the time I worked there.

    We'd get situations where a person would be housed, abandon the property, end up back at the hostel while people who had been in the hostel all along were staying out overnight in the accommodation: "I was at your flat last night". That sort of thing.

    It's big business homelessness. Emmaus have a good model. The Cyrenians weren't big providers, but were always efficient and very supportive. The church organisations got taken for many a ride and the organised bodies were chaotic.

    But that was Cambridge for you in 2000. And of course there was the famous court case re Overstream House. I had to work with the partner of one of the staff imprisoned. That member of staff wasn't a happy bunny and quietly seethed at the residents. It was actually the out of towners driving in to deal to the homeless at the day shelter. And of course you can't allow dealing on the premises. But they did.

    Absolute chaos by well meaning people. Another job I walked away from. Due to the staff not the clients. Then I went back to provide education packages and marvelled at the continuing chaos.

    I always remember the woman who interviewed me for the hostel job. All smiles at the interview and later, loads of praise when I walked out of the job. Then, when I'd show up to provide the education packages through my own company she was stressed to the extreme. They couldn't find keys for rooms. No one knew what they were doing because they wouldn't make an effort.

    I left the hostel because they wouldn't attend to handovers. Useless staff. Absolutely useless.

    And lots of dead people who I really liked and cared about.
    Jamvic and will_osweighton like this.
  7. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    We don't have a lot of spare housing capacity, DoY. We have long waiting lists for paying customers with children for what little there is. Homeless people are a high-risk tenancy option even with the govt footing the bill.
    Jamvic likes this.
  8. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    What a pity council houses were sold off and not replaced.
  9. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    True, but I do seem to recall people sleeping in doorways and under bridges before that, they often had complex issues that weren't easily dealt with and that was when funding was still available to support those needs.
    Aquamarina1234 and Jamvic like this.
  10. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    There was a change in the law a few years ago, which made finding & funding accommodation for ex-offenders much, much harder. A huge number of homeless people fit into that category.

    One of my friends worked for St Giles' Trust, a charity specialising in finding accommodation for ex-offenders, and he described the negative impact of this change
    colacao17, ajrowing and Jamvic like this.
  11. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    When you think about it, if you've got some sort of addiction or severe mental health problem, the house is the last thing you lose.

    Usually, you lose your health, job, money, car, family, dignity, self respect and then the house goes.

    You can't reverse the process. You have to start again. Yes, you need somewhere to stay that is safe and secure, but taking on a house when you haven't got the other stuff sorted first can be fatal. Lose the next house and you'll not feel much like starting again, again.

    Homelessness is not a cause, It's a symptom.
  12. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I don't remember that at all - I wonder if it was just a big city phenomenon, especially London? It's only the last few years that I have seen homeless people not only in my town centre, but also in small suburban shopping areas.

    Data is hard to understand. Because, of course, there are homeless families, living in B&Bs, and homeless individuals living on the streets. They're all homeless, but some are more homeless than others.
    colacao17 and Jamvic like this.
  13. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    But where was the planning when the decision was made that the mentallyill would be better off with Care in the Community so the government could reduce the costs of keeping these people in institutions?

    Don't get me wrong, I think it was a good move to to rid ourselves of mental institutions and allow the incarcerated individuals greater decency of life, but the honest truth is it wasn't followed up with the support needed.

    Neither was it followed up with support for future generations who suffer with poor mental health.

    The same thing applied when Thatcher sold off the council housing stock and never replaced it.

    Nothing grates more than when I hear a politician say they grew up on a council estate and came good, but are happy that the ladder was pulled up after; and sod the generations who followed.
  14. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    A homeless man I spoke to said that a lot of people get kicked out by their partner-one minute life's happy and they are secure, they next on the street-they might be too ashamed to ask for help from family and friends in case they believe that he is a wife-beater. Many refuges only take certain types of people, and exclude men. It's easy to think it could never happen to anyone you know, but a homeless man could have been quite rich and have had a mortgage very recently. Another thing to consider is that may people who would have lived together with their children only a few decades ago now split before/shortly after the birth of a child, so that means two homes are needed, not one. Also, quite recently people did not deliberately choose to get pregnant to 'get a house without having to ever work'-now lots of friends have children/grandchildren who are advised by their friends to do this. Waste is another key concern-one of my friends has lived in a council house for twenty years-they frequently update the bathrooms and kitchens-yet he got a letter saying his house was going to be demolished so they were giving him one of the new homes on the estate-just moths after they'd put a brand new kitchen in! Such a waste of money that could have been spent on those freezing on the streets.
    Libraries are closing, or losing facilities such as cafes, which at least provided comfort for homeless people during the day.
  15. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    I am not disagreeing with you in any way, DoY. I have known professional men in my life who have ended up on the streets via the usual route - addiction, marriage breakdown (sometimes reversed), house lost, debt accrued, council bedsit acquired, rent not paid (WHY DID THEY STOP PAYING STRAIGHT FROM BENEFITS???), eviction, on the street.

    There are plenty of homeless people who won't access shelters because they don't have access to their substance. Others won't accept it because they don't want to be told what to do. Some are so far gone they can't tell the difference between a doorway and a flat. Yet others are so unstable they present an actual threat to nearby tenants. Two girls I taught were living in temporary accommodation with such people. One set fire to the property.

    By all means, we could find some bit of land no-one else is interested in, build a multi-storey and use it to house the presently homeless. Who want housing, and preferably without the risk of dealers and debtcollectors busting the wrong door down. We've still got all the others.
    needabreak likes this.
  16. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    It was in Central London... They were were most evident late at night and very early in the mornings... Centrepoint comes to mind... the charity has been there a while, so presumably has the problem.
    chelsea2 likes this.
  17. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Nacro. I worked with them in the 80's... I've posted about that in the past, trouble was who wants to live next door to ex offenders who throw their refuse out of their flat window like they have grown accustomed to doing while banged up? These people really are not easily rehabilitated and often repeat anti social and illegal behaviours as a consequence... the idea that more cheap housing will solve this issue is sadly mistaken.
  18. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Another judgy thread about individuals making poor choices when an inherent failure of social obligation by the government so often precedes individual choice...this is not chicken and egg, this is cause and effect.
  19. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Well I hope someone does something about it although I rather doubt it will be this current government.
  20. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Finnish GDP per Capita $45,700
    UK GDP per capita $39,700

    So $6000 per head makes it pointfull... not "pointless"

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