As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in the Denver metro area, more and more people are finding themselves struggling to pay rent. Even worse, while the city around them flourishes with new apartments and homes, over 5,000 people have found themselves homeless during this housing boom (Brown). Instead of finding new ways to help people afford to live here, Denver is trying to push our homeless population out of the city completely. As a country, we pride ourselves on our ability to help other countries’ poverty and starvation problems, but when will we decide that it is time to help our own poor and starving people living on our local streets?
The solution to homelessness is a housing-first approach; providing tiny housing to homeless people at an inexpensive rate to help people get back on their feet and back into a healthy, thriving environment. One might say, But we have homeless shelters, or We have housing assistance programs, and they would be right. We do have methods of helping our homeless population get off the streets and even assistance to help prevent people from being there in the first place. However, the question is; which method is the most effective? Shelters are typically temporary homes, and housing assistance programs sometimes can’t provide enough resources for those who are struggling. Studies have shown time and time again that the most effective and realistic way of not only preventing homelessness but also ending homelessness is a housing-first approach.
Homeless shelters are meant to be a safe-haven for our homeless population. Denver has many shelters providing beds, blankets, and meals to homeless people every day. Although shelters are beneficial for those needing temporary accommodations, they are not effective when it comes to longterm benefits. Shelters don’t allow residents to develop a sense of permanency – and it’s permanency that helps people get a job or stay sober, studies show, (Semuels). There are also violent incidents in many shelters that include sexual assault and domestic violence (Semuels). Having a small space to come home to every day that is solely yours is of highest importance when it comes to getting, and staying, off of the streets.
These homes provide legitimate safety, privacy, and also allows people to start collecting personal belongings, as many shelters don’t permit personal items in their shelters. This ensures that a homeless person can begin collecting clothes, wash their clothes on a regular basis, store groceries, and have a dependable and warm place to sleep at night. With the housing-first approach, after one is settled into their new home, they are provided drug and alcohol treatment, an assigned social worker, and job training. All of these services have been optional and studies have shown that most people accept them (Semuels). By reducing the number of homeless people on our streets and providing them the resources they need to succeed,
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