Rick Jensen: Obama policy keeping homeless people on the street
No one should be surprised that President Obama signed a Democratic Party bill that puts more homeless people in the streets. It just needs to be repealed.
On May 20, 2009, President Obama reauthorized the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009. It redefined homelessness and promoted all sorts of alleged benefits. The real result is something quite different.
It has created a “one-size-fits-all, one-door-only policy” that actually keeps homeless people on the streets.
In Wilmington, Del., The Sunday Breakfast Mission has achieved a 75 percent success rate based on the number of homeless men who have completed their program and gone on to find and hold onto jobs and homes following extensive drug and alcohol programs and life training education.
There is no federal program with such a success rate.
The clients get volunteer legal help, a G.E.D. if they have no high school diploma, interview and work training and personal finance education.
It’s all free thanks to private donations and tireless Pastor Tom Laymon, who lives and breathes this mission 24 hours a day.
Seventy-five percent of these men have not slid back into a life of self-medicated homeless despair.
Just a couple of years ago, The Mission raised $10 million in private funds to build a facility for homeless women and children. They accept no government funding.
Imagine a woman who brings her child to such a mission. They are fed and given safe shelter. She decides to accept the guidance and education offered.
But upon graduation with a job in hand she will not be allowed to use the federal safety net for food and housing assistance, because the Hearth Act Amendment demands she enter only one door for “official” homelessness. So, she must now go out with her baby and live in the street with rapists and drug-addled criminals for 24 hours before she can be “processed” by the feds as an “official” homeless person.
This has actually happened in cities around the country including Cleveland, , Rockford, Ill. and Los Angeles.
President Obama and the Democrats leading this country have decided that every homeless person in America is a cookie-cutter destitute Ken or Barbie who may enter one door only to be helped. This is “central processing,” where a bureaucrat assigns the person to a room somewhere, anywhere. The Obama solution is to give every homeless person a room, as if mental illness and subsequent drug and alcohol problems have nothing to do with homelessness.
They are replacing successful missions with a failed “central planning” ideology.
The federal government has now determined that no matter how successful a non-federal mission has been, it has no authority to help the homeless unless they check in the grand wizard’s magic federal doorway to be mystically healed in a “room” — any room.
In Cleveland, Pastor Richard Trickel has helped thousands of homeless find the treatments, counseling and job training they need to become self-sufficient.
His city took this horror of big government even further. Some Cleveland foundations have said they are withholding grant money from missions that are not fully engaged in this failed “Housing First” model.
One ill-informed foundation perspective is that the federal government’s program has made the City Mission’s program ineffectual and out-of-date.
Problem is, the “Housing First” program is less effective than the Rescue Missions in Cleveland, Wilmington and elsewhere.
In New York, the “Housing First” program authorities artificially inflated the numbers of homeless and ran out of money after a few years, sending thousands into the streets.
Solution: Rewrite the amendment to accept the reality that there is “no wrong door” for homeless to enter programs, encourage cooperation between those who receive government funding and those who don’t, stop the coercion by the feds and an articulated understanding on behalf of this administration that homelessness is actually more complicated than some guy who didn’t pay his rent.
Rick Jensen can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.