Wheels For the Homeless
Suppose communities surrounding yours were using wheels attached to their carts to move themselves and their belongings around, but your community was still using sleds to do the same thing and was either unaware of these wheels or was aware and had chosen not to use them and instead continue building bigger and better sleds.
That is precisely what is happening in Albuquerque in regard to the homeless population. A good number of cities, mostly in western states, have adopted, built and are operating something known as a "homeless campus" where all facilities and services, including various forms of housing, are located. This centralization improves the lives of the homeless, cuts down drastically on the ill-effects on neighborhoods, parks, sidewalks, etc. that homelessness produces and costs less for cities and tax-payers while getting a much better result.
Examples are not hard to find. San Antonio's “Haven for Hope” was established in 2010 and has had scores of other cities send representatives to study their program. Search “Haven for Hope becomes model for other cities,” “homeless campus plans,” or havenforhope.org to see what other cities are doing while Albuquerque is not.
I suggest (and have been doing so with various city officials and others for almost a year) that Albuquerque should do the same thing, only better. A homeless campus, modeled after the best features of other existing facilities, should be built on the edge of town, fenced and regulated, where most facilities and services for the homeless would be located.
This campus, much like a university campus, would teach, train, counsel, aid and assist, diagnose and treat, etc. persons to rise to their highest capabilities and return to society and their own home in whatever way they are able.
The campus would act as a triage center to categorize each person's reason(s) for being homeless, thus being better able to redirect individuals to facilities and programs that would get them the help they need to improve their situation and their lives.
The campus would include an administration building, cafeteria, laundry, dormitories and tents, bathrooms with showers, clinic, counseling and therapy rooms, church, excercise facilities, mailroom, clothing room, library, computer room and whatever else a group of a few hundred persons would need to get back to a normal life.
Most of the facilities could start off as trailers and other forms of quick and temporary structures while more permanent buildings are planned and built.
Maybe one day something major will change in our society and economy that will cause the number of homeless to be greatly reduced. (I suggest a reversal in the ever-shrinking—since Reagan—spread between wages and rents, a major cause of homelessness.)
Until then, and for now, the campus is the wheel and Albuquerque is dragging a sled with one hand and patting themselves on the back with the other.