FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
Homelessness remains a persistent concern in Santa Fe and around the country. I believe we can better define a vision and a goal to guide our work on this issue. I believe our vision should be for homelessness to be brief, rare and nonrecurring. The goal is to return people to productive lives.
Homelessness has both internal and external issues.
Externally, the location and size of a shelter should not negatively impact the homeowners and business owners of the surrounding area. Large shelters like Pete’s Place are unsustainable and a new solution is required. Additionally, staying within a large population increases already high stress levels for shelter residents. Repurposing older or obsolete buildings in every district of the city to create zero-Impact shelters that are smaller and more humane would be my priority.
Internally, we have very talented social workers and non-profit organizations working with the homeless population. They are underfunded and undersupplied. Better database management is needed as well. ‘I would dedicate cannabis tax revenue for homelessness and affordable housing priorities to make certain that we have the ability to provide the services needed to achieve the goal of returning people to productive lives.
We know that not all people will return to a productive life. Locally the annual point-in time count of homeless people in January 2020 found 407 people. National studies show that chronic homelessness (over 1 year) is 27% of the population. So we can extrapolate that we have about 100 individuals that are in a state of chronic homelessness. The causes of chronic homelessness are related to debilitating health issues like mental illness, drug addition, physical disabilities and other conditions. Permanent supportive housing is the only humane solution for this population rather than the alternative of bridges, parks, shelters, hospitals, jails, and prison.
Finally, accountability and transparency in government is crucial. We need to better track expenditures and monitor results. It’s hard to know if something is working if you don’t have the data. I would make this issue an ‘open study’ so we can all determine best practices and better meet our goals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Late Nite Grafix, Inc.