I had started to write this article a while back and well, life, work, etc. got in the way, so here you go….
Great article in the Boston Globe on a pilot program funded by the Boston Foundation, that provides for employment and training for formerly homeless individuals. In addition to the Housing First principles beginning to take hold here in Massachusetts, at the end of this pilot, will have hard evidence to what we’ve known all along, employment is the key to sustainability.
For many chronic homeless men and women, re-housing was the “easy part”. It’s easy to provide first and last months rent to give a guy or gal a hand up, maximize the benefit package, engage in mental health or substance abuse treatment..the real work begins after the bloom has worn and our guys find themselves increasingly lonely. The prospect for many, as this stage sets in, is frightening. All the demons that have been kept at bay for so many years (kept in check by survival mode), now begin to air and all of the supports and social systems that were developed being homeless are no longer there..scary!
With the type of Employment First programming being piloted in Boston, along with model Employment First programming that has been created around the country, we can really start to do some serious damage (in a good way) in decreasing homelessness for 10’s of thousands of homeless men and women. Imagine..decreasing the need for emergency shelter for our individuals, providing our folks with housing, employment and social opportunities. Imagine..decreasing the burden of the cost of providing emergency shelter services to our communities..Imagine the transformation of these guys and gals as they grow into new lives!