Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Permanent Housing for the Homeless

I rarely blog about work, as that can lead to dangerous territory, especially when the work you do gets linked to politics. This post, however, is about work. Zion Development Corporation, who I work for, opened Rockford's first permanent supportive housing for people who'd otherwise be homeless. This is a relatively new model of housing for the homeless, but it is the centerpiece of President Bush's goal of ending chronic homelessness within 10 years (a goal he set a couple years ago, so time is running out. In December 2001, we opened the Grand Apartments, which is still Rockford's only working model of permanent supportive housing. Of course, that means that Rockford (pop. 150,000) has more of this type of housing than most STATES, but that's another discussion. The Grand Apartments is a 45 unit building of studio apartments. We have a full-time and a part-time social worker on the premises. We allow the residents to live in the building as long as they pay their rent and abide by their lease. One of our original tenants is still in the building. This is a place where services are provided to help keep people from ending up back on the streets.

Why do I post all of this now? Because The Homeless Guy has an excellent post on the what's and why's of homelessness. The homeless state of living is one of the most misunderstood and stereotyped states of living that we have in the U.S. Have you thought about how it must feel to run a shelter? Try telling a pregnant woman to leave your building at 5:30 AM on Christmas morning when you both know that she has NO PLACE to go. The mall? It's closed. The churches? They're closed. The government buildings? They're closed. Shelters serve a purpose, but ultimately the goal is to get people off of the streets. The Grand Apartments offer that. It gives people a permanent place to live.

BTW, if you're interested in support Zion Development Corporation, I'll be adding a PayPal button to the website later this week. You won't have to open a PayPal account, but you will need a credit card. Any donations are GREATLY appreciated.