Many people cringe at the sight of a homeless person under an overpass or on a bench, and yet most people have been close to homelessness at least once in their lives. With many families living literally paycheck-to-paycheck, unforeseen setbacks can easily result in homelessness. For example, medical emergencies, lack of transportation, job loss and even low wages can cause someone to lose their home or apartment. A commonly unknown fact: 33% of people who are currently homeless hold full or part-time jobs, and their income is simply not enough to support a household.
"Unfortunately, some homeless experts . . . push for more shelters instead of . . . affordable housing . . . Celebrate Outreach proposes something different!"
Celebrate Outreach seeks to utilize the Housing First model -- a philosophy and methodology developed in New York and promoted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through which the persons experiencing homelessness are quickly placed in permanent housing first, and then surrounded by the supportive services (case management, drug or alcohol treatment, income assistance, etc.) they need to achieve their self-sufficiency and independence. Using this evidence-based practice has resulted in lower public expenditures and reduced recidivism rates in successful program implementation throughout the U.S.
To address the need for more, low-cost permanent housing units for veterans experiencing homelessness in the St. Petersburg area, Celebrate Outreach has been networking with local congregations to identify possible housing development locations and offering aid directly to those persons in need. Plans are being developed to construct a tiny house village for homeless veterans. These micro communities are comprised of several inexpensive, energy-efficient houses less than 400 square feet in size situated around one common building that contains a meeting area, a central kitchen, bathing and laundry facilities and office space. The micro community vision also includes a community garden where residents can grow organic crops to be consumed on-site as well as sold to local markets and residents to help cover the village’s operating costs while providing fresh, local, organic food for the larger community.
Celebrate Outreach depends on donations in order to provide the assistance this community so greatly needs. You too can be a part of the solution by donating time, supplies, or money. With your help, tiny houses can become a big solution for ending homelessness in our area. Our veterans have given so much, and it is time we all help give back.
(This post is a shortened, edited version of "Position Paper Addressing and Ending Homelessness," by Kimberly Suders, Christopher Hutchins, and Shaun Knipp, University of South Florida St. Petersburg students who wrote the paper as a service learning project under the direction of their English professor and our former Board member, Dr. Jill McCracken.)