June 5, 2014
The homeless numbers have gone down across the state. We checked in with a local shelter and one of our homeless community members to see how that translates to our city. It turns out a shift in focus for dealing with the problem is translating to some very real numbers.
PACEM Program Director Jesse Boeckermann says part of it is due to rapid rehousing.
"Rapid rehousing has been a trend on the state and national level since 2011. The idea is housing first. The idea of putting someone in their own place, with their own roof over their head, their own home, and then connecting them with mental health services and substance abuse services kind of after the fact."
Emergency shelter PACEM has seen evidence of improvement in some areas. They've had more individual people in the last year, but had people staying fewer nights.
That's in part because PACEM is working hard to get people into permanent housing as quickly as possible.
"We want people to come in here, to use the emergency shelter if they need it so they are not freezing to death on the street. But then to get them reconnected with the family and friends or get them a housing plan going forward so they can get back on their feet."
He says once people have housing, the focus can be on career help and mental health or drug treatment.
In other words, less emergency shelter time. More treatment time.
So, do the people in our community that are homeless feel like is it working? Local homeless man Qumell Green says he has seen conditions improve.
"They help people so fast around here. The Haven, the Salvation Army, they help people. I was like oh my gosh really ridiculous. Like one moment when I first came down here the Haven was full of people. Now there is like hardly nobody in there. People got houses down at the Crossing down there."
For more information on PACEM head over to their website at http://pacemshelter.org/