Affordable Housing: What We Need Beyond Shelter

There are many noble efforts being made to feed and care for the homeless in Portland, which is indeed commendable. In Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, the city council recently voted to exempt three new affordable housing projects from property taxes. Read the full article here. These properties include 223 apartments. This is the type of permanent affordable housing which is needed. Congratulations Beaverton for being creative about providing this type of housing. It shows a great creativity in engaging the private sector to fulfill a public need.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosures were filed against close to 3 million American homeowners in 2010 and in increasing numbers in 2012. The preferred model should be Affordable Housing that offers permanent homes to the needy combined with support services that will enable the less fortunate in our society to lay roots, become part of the community and to thrive.

The Obama Administration program “Opening Doors” has made it their goal to provide mainstream housing, combined with health care, education and human service programs, which must be fully integrated and coordinated in order to prevent and end homelessness. Your support for this model to end homelessness is important for the healthy growth of our communities and the eradication of poverty in our country.

Ever wonder who is genuinely homeless and in need?

As someone who has devoted a great deal of time, attention and money to attempting to find solutions to homelessness and to alleviate the immediate needs of individuals who are houseless, I find that I still have an aversion to being hustled on street corners by panhandlers, begging for money to ostensibly buy a meal, a bus ticket or to secure shelter. On the other hand, how am I to know if this person’s needs are genuine?

homeless solutions needed in central parkOver time, I have found that the greater benefit can be achieved by doing advance research in and around the areas that I live and work to secure current information about the location of social services, veterans affairs, shelters and soup kitchens, etc. with the contact numbers and hours that they are open. I print this information on card quality colored paper about the size of a 2 X 5 index card and hand them out to the people who are begging.

Soutions to homelessness in Portland

Sometimes, I will still contribute a dollar or two, but at least I know that the person can benefit from the information that I have given them, should they choose to do so.

It might be useful for someone in your real estate office to compile this information and make it available for everyone in the firm to print out and distribute as needed each time that they find a needy person whom they would like to help. This little extra effort on the part of one person can benefit many by directing them to the appropriate sources of assistance.

Ever Wonder about Homelessness?

We all walk around the cities and towns that we live in and see homeless individuals. I always think that these people are someone’s children, someone’s siblings, maybe someone’s parents. In other words, they just didn’t turn up on a street corner as panhandlers. The root causes of homelessness are many: mental illness, addictions, and more recently just plain joblessness and hard times. Today many people who were formerly middle class have lost their jobs and their homes. Not having a permanent address makes receiving the benefits that homeless people are entitled to next to impossible to obtain. It also makes applying for a job a near impossible feat.

A substantial number of homeless people are veterans who fought for their country and returned with PTSD or physical injuries that make it difficult or impossible to hold regular employment. Applying for veteran’s disability benefits has become increasingly fraught with time-consuming red tape. In the meantime, they need adequate housing and care. What kind of a country are we when we don’t provide shelter for our wounded warriors?

Another group of homeless people are youths who have been terminated from foster care at age 18. Poorly educated and jobless, they end up on the street. Those returning from jails and prisons, having paid their debt to society, are entitled to a fresh start. They shouldn’t be sentenced to returning to jail for minor offenses incurred just to survive on the street.

The mentally ill, who were previously safely housed in institutions, make up a large portion of our homeless population. These are people who, when properly medicated, could be contributing members of society. They are the most ill-equipped and most vulnerable individuals, completely unable to survive homelessness on the streets. A perfect example is the man who was rescued in Times Square by a benevolent policeman who bought him a pair of shoes on a freezing night. Read the NY Times article here.

There are solutions to homelessness and I think that those of us who make a healthy living selling homes should also concern ourselves with this problem. For this reason, I have pledged to donate 50% of the net proceeds of my book to charities which are successfully combating this enormous societal problem.