Though I did not take a picture of the crushed, tiny, pink houses at the former Nicklesville on South Dearborn St., I wish I had. The enraging image remains in my memory. One week, on my walk over the José Rizal Bridge, the houses were occupied, a functioning, though troubled, community. Disagreements about policy and personality resulted in forced disbanding of the community and the next week the houses were crushed. What had been generously built, had provided shelter and privacy to the few who were lucky enough to live in them briefly was a mess of large, pink splinters. As I stood staring, my jaw dropped. I wondered how the destruction of the houses was part of the solution to end homelessness.
Reading “All Home cuts funds for transitional housing” [Real Change, Oct. 5] brought the image of the crushed houses and the same question back to mind. Eleven transitional housing programs have been providing some degree of protection, security, support and privacy to however many otherwise un-housed people. These agencies will no longer receive federal funding for this essential work. How is this part of the solution to end homelessness?
There is no single solution to address the highly complex issues of homelessness, but an equation of many variables. A well-run pilot program might offer a new service to a sample of a population to see if and how it might work, while leaving other things in place. In this case, set a time frame — say, two years — offer rapid rehousing (a “market-based” method) to a sampling of people and see what happens. Rapid rehousing might be part of the solution, but no single strategy will ever be the entire solution.
Underfunding agencies that are a part of the equation is like bulldozing viable housing, whether tiny, pink places or the many other single- and multi-unit structures that have been destroyed in a market-driven, not human-needs-driven, environment. Isn’t this one of the reasons we have so many people unhoused in the first place?
— Cecilia Erin Walsh, Seattle
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