Pathways to Housing, a New York City and Washington, D.C. non-profit housing organization, offers Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) apartments to homeless people before doing or requiring much else.
Many "authorities" on homelessness are quick to question or doubt their methods, until they do some research.
Between 1993 and 1997, hard research demonstrated that 88% of their clients--all of them extreme cases--remained in the housing Pathways provided, as compared to 47% who went through New York City's treatment system.
Another study funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, randomly assigned 225 mentally ill New Yorkers to either Pathways or a traditional program. After one year, Pathways participants were homeless 3% of the time, compared to 28% of the time for those in the city's system.
Radical vision and delivery this Pathways outfit!
Once identified, a homeless person is placed in decent, clean housing in two weeks.
While offering many traditional medical and psychiatric services and other "wrap around" resources like those we have in abundance here in Dallas (at least as compared to housing units), Pathways does not require anyone to use them to qualify for housing.
Housing comes first.
That is because Pathways' leadership understands that much of the mental illness found on urban streets is created by the street itself.
Lesson to be learned: People were not made to live on the streets of the city.
Founder Sam Tsemberis (pronounced: Tim-bare-is) says it best, "You're curing the housing problem first. You cure the person later."
Beyond the improved situation for the clients, consider the amazing savings in costs to the city. The savings achieved in reduced Emergency Room expenses, prison/jail time, shelters and other services far surpassed the cost to provide a decent room to a person for a year.
In New York City the cost of doing business in the traditional manner per person totals almost $41,000 annually. Pathways spends about $22,000 per person per year with much better outcomes.
Sometimes common sense can save us, if we are willing to step back and reconsider what we are really doing. Those of us in the "poverty industry" need to learn this lesson badly.
"Place first" sounds like something we should try here in Dallas.