I just wrote this whole post then my internet shut down and it deleted it, Happy Monday! First task for you is to read the article above. Ok, done? Good. In case you didn't really read it, it essentially addresses the human rights violations that would occur if homelessness were made criminal. The top 4 they bring forth are:
The one that stands out to me the most is point #2, driving homeless people to the outskirts of cities. New London is actually a perfect example of why this is unrealistic and does not solve any problems for society. All of the services one could need are generally in the same vicinity here. Shaw's Cove has Adult Education, CT Works for workshops on employment and resumes, Community Health Care has a walk-in clinic, Oral Care Dental Group is a short trip up on Montauk Ave and they accept ANY form of insurance (they also offered our guests vouchers for free check ups), the VA has an outpatient clinic at Shaw's Cove as well, and just up on Jay Street you will find 3 shelters. One serves women, one serves families and single adults, and one serves solely single adults. One that is struggling can easily find 3 meals each day and then some in New London. How is all this relevant, you ask? Everything our guests need is within walking distance and their needs are recognized and addressed by many community partners. This is possible because we are in a city, if our shelter was in Uncasville we would be so far from practical services that our guests would likely not even bother going to a clinic when they get sick or injured.
We do have a city bus service, but we have a limited amount of vouchers to hand out to our guests as it is and we reserve them mostly for employment. Let's consider employment now. Most of our guests who have jobs are able to walk to their jobs, even if that means leaving an hour before the shift. Again, if we were in Uncasville or Niantic, less jobs would be available at entry level (which are the most abundant as we have found), therefore obtaining employment in New London would be the most logical option, but there would be no way of getting there. The bus you say, yes the bus. However, if we have 10 guests that are employed right now, say 8 are in New London/Groton and 2 are in Norwich or at Mohegan Sun. It isn't really an issue to make sure those 2 people outside the New London/Groton area have bus tickets, since it is so few, but if we were in a location 10-15 miles away and those same 8 people worked in New London we would have an extremely difficult time funding transportation for all of them. So being in a city allows employment for more of our guests, and more consistent employment at that. The more they are able to work, the more money they can put into their Housing Savings Account (we require 30% from those with income), and the easier it will be for them to find housing...and the closer we are as a society to eliminating homelessness.
Let's also look at our country's spending; would it cost less to incarcerate everyone without a home or to support our local services and shelters so that the issue of homelessness can eventually come to an end? How long do you incarcerate someone for something that they can't control? Once they've served the time, they will still be homeless unless the criminal justice system would like to release everyone into subsidized housing and extended unemployment funds. In which case, why bother using any funding to incarcerate them in the first place? If we take steps to END homelessness, none of this is even a question. According to National Public Radio and a source I have at the East Hartford Police Department (hey, Dad!), incarceration for a single person is an average of $75,000 per year. First of all, that is OUTRAGEOUS, but that includes corrections and programs that must be completed before release (the only useful programs they could provide as a result of being homeless would be the services offered at CT Works, however those already exist). A single person living in New London can find a decent 1 bedroom apartment for about $750 a month, and a studio for around $600 a month, this is no more than $9000 per year. I'll even go the next step and include cost of living; assume a single adult can feed themselves for $200 per month, utilities cost about $100, if they really want cable and internet service they're looking at another $150 a month. This still comes to around $14,400significantly lower costs.
Jackie, do you realize that your whole post argued on the SAME point as the article? Yes. I do realize that, but since most of you reading this are residents of New London County or at least Connecticut, I wanted to paint a very realistic picture for you detailing the actual services that are offered in the community. You know how many people could be housed at the same cost of incarcerating ONE person? That would be 8 people. I know some of you get bored and aggravated by numbers, so I'll stop there instead of telling you that as an alternative to incarcerating 60 people, we could house 500.
Think on that, and remember how important it is to exercise your passions. You can start by emailing me and coming in to volunteer with us because we need you. I'm not even going to sugar coat it and make it seem like we're doing you a favor by offering you volunteer opportunities, we need you, come help us.
Also, have a good Monday.