When addressing homelessness, there is not just one answer, and a temporary shelter or offering them affordable/low cost apartment or house may exceed their financial capabilities. Trying to make them self-sufficient may also not be where they are mentally, but they still need a long-term solution. The homeless tend to congregate into common areas where they can find solace in others living in the same situation. A solution for this type of problem, requires embracing the lifestyle they have become accustomed to, and improving on it while helping to return them to a safer lifestyle.
During the most recent US Census, a study was done of residents of different types emergency and transitional shelters. These types of shelters operate on a first come first serve basis and are available many times only on a limited basis. These places include the facilities of religious organizations, low cost hotels and motels or other types of temporary residences (US Census Bureau, 2012). This type of sheltering tends to perpetuate the action it is attempting to alleviate, by placing the homeless back on the street when an individual other than the recipient of the benefit decides that the need no longer exists or they have exceeded their benefit.
The homeless need a place to go, and not just for a few hours, or when the weather is less than ideal or for a time determined by someone besides the person receiving the help. The homeless are looking for a permanent solution that would provide housing without putting them in a similar situation to the one they are currently escaping.
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A better proposal would be to build facilities that could house hundreds of people at one time, with spaces they can call their own. Rather than utilizing bunk beds in an open area, a better long-term solution would be to use a capsule concept like those used in Japanese hotels.
Instead of building a facility, The Future would repurpose either an abandoned grocery store or department store. According to “the Money” website the typical size of a grocery store is approximately 45,000 square feet (Tuttle, 2014). This space is typically open and easy to partition off as appropriate.
One cubicle is approximately 21 square feet, so a facility as large as a grocery store could easily house 1,000 units comfortably while still leaving room for the other facilities listed in this proposal.
Each of the different types of homeless addressed in document would be separated by the type of situation, in that it would be easier to address the issues by specialist in the areas. People with an alcohol dependency have one set of needs while, while individuals with a dependence on recreational and prescription medications would need a different type of attention, and finally individuals with psychiatric issues need a totally different type of attention. Many of these conditions can be treated with appropriate medical supervision and medication.
Women and children under the age of 18 would be separated to ensure safety and security. The area would be secured with a cipher lock to allow easy entry and exit of the tenants while keeping out potential unwanted visitors.
The staffing for each facility will be one manager, one benefit specialist, kitchen staff, and appropriate administrative staff. Security will be staffed as one security guard for every 250 people.
The medical facilities will be staffed by one physician and one physician assistant or nurse practitioner with appropriate nursing support. Video monitoring will be used throughout the facility.
The monitoring of the facility will utilize facial recognition software for the purposes of identifying individuals who may be missing or to identify a potentially criminal element that is looking for some place to hide.
The use of open bay showers or bathrooms will be discouraged as it has the potential to cause issues. The recommendation will be that the shower area and toilets be broken off into single use areas with locked doors.
Many times, everything a person owns is in a shopping cart or a backpack and by living on the streets these people are always attempting to protect everything they own, so storage areas would be provided to protect the belonging of these individuals. In addition, by removing these items from the street the overall appearance of the area where it was being left on the street will improve.
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Since this type of housing can manage hundreds or even thousands of residents, the scope of the project would be tailored to each location. The process would require a determination of the number of homeless, then secure a facility large enough to accommodate the needed beds and other facilities, and within a reasonable time frame, possibly 2-3 years, most of the homeless would be off the street and working their way back to some form of normalcy or at least they will be in a safe environment.