Can We Really END Homelessness In Acadiana?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Yes, but we need to be clear about what we mean when we say we will “end” homelessness.
Does “ending homelessness” mean that you will never again see another homeless individual on the side of the road asking for help? No.
Does “ending homelessness” mean families will never again struggle to make ends meet, occasionally come up short on the rent, and need to stay in a shelter at some point? No.
No. Despite the boldness of the phrase, it doesn’t really mean that there will never, ever be another person who experiences homelessness in our community.
So….. what exactly does ARCH mean when we say that we are working to “end homelessness”?
Ending homelessness in a community means that there is a plan (not just on paper, but one that actually works!) to prevent and quickly address any episode of homelessness.
ARCH follows the plan laid out by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, entitled Opening Doors.
In this plan, an end to homelessness means the community has a comprehensive response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it can’t be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.
RARE: For ARCH, even one person experiencing homelessness is too many. Currently, there are approximately 300 people experiencing homelessness in Acadiana. More on the number of people who are homeless in Acadiana HERE. Working to prevent homelessness is tricky because we do not have a crystal ball. The data shows that most people who experience housing instability do not actually become homeless, but some will. Predicting who will become homeless is tough. But providing community supports to people who live in housing that is too expensive and/or not safe is a great place to begin.
BRIEF: Recognizing that homelessness happens, the goal is to reduce the time a person experiences homelessness to less than 30 days. Emergency shelters will always be necessary for those (rare) occasions where people simply need a safe place to sleep. However, ARCH is working to better-coordinate all of the systems of care in the community so that resources are stream-lined and efficient. Having available, affordable housing within the community is also a key factor in shortening a person’s experiencing of homelessness. (More on how Acadiana landlords can help end homelessness HERE.)
NON-RECURRING: One time is too many. But once a person/family returns to safe housing, ARCH’s mission is to help the community provide enough supports that this person/family NEVER becomes homeless again.
It is pretty simple. And actually very do-able. Following this method, communities across the country have successfully “ended veteran homelessness” and/or “ended chronic homelessness.” A few have even declared that they have “ended family homelessness!”
Ending homelessness is possible. And if it can be done, then Acadiana can do it!
Want to help end homelessness in Acadiana?
- Join the ARCH email list for more information about our work by opting into our newsletter on the bottom of the home page.
- Become an ARCH member (individual and business or organizational memberships available) (link)
- Attend an upcoming ARCH General Meeting (open to the public) (link to calendar)
- Like ARCH on Facebook
- Sign up now to volunteer in January for the annual Point in Time Count