I’ve been relatively quiet on this blog recently. But since I’m being quoted in local press, I figure now is the time to share a little bit. In Santa Cruz County, it’s time to start shifting the conversation around homeless from complaining about it and reporting on the facts of it to talking about what it’ll take to actually end homelessness here.
In this article, that’s part of what I’m laying out in my quotes.
Yet, what it’s going to take to end homelessness here (or anywhere in this country) remains elusive. Even though I could be considered an expert on the topic, all I have to offer are educated guesses myself. What we need, at least in Santa Cruz County, is more refined data. With refined data, we can evaluate what sorts of programs are successful and make sure that we have programs to meet the needs of each person experiencing homelessness. To their credit, the county is coming up with a way to get more refined data on our homeless residents. With decent data, I think we can start to develop a plan to end homelessness here. If we have a plan, then we can evaluate each action that the community takes through the lens of that plan. Without a plan, we end up with what we already have: What seems to be (to someone who is outside of the decision making process) an unrelated series of decisions and events that may or may not lead to anything. Without a plan, we end up going from urgent issue to urgent issue, without necessarily thinking in the sort of long term way that’s needed to actually make a notable dent in this years long issue.
But data is also more than just data points. In order to have good policy, we need our people who are crafting policy to understand the problem outside of the raw data points itself. That’s why one of my organization’s goals is to provide education; about what it’s like to be homeless, what it’s like to be a service provider, and what challenges we all are facing as we grapple with this issue. We aim to provide this education to everyone, because every single one of us are in a position to influence policy.
You’re going to see some of that here on this blog, but if you want to be sure to see it more regularly you should connect with my org, The Free Guide, on social media. We are only at the stage where we have launched our socials, we have not mastered the art of social media at all. But as we get better at them, you’ll get a bunch more good content from us on this stuff:
Facebook: Santa Cruz Free Guide
If you are a member of the media and reading this, I’m interested in any project that can help the general public understand the realities of homelessness. I think it is truly going to take community wide action to address this issue. So, fire away with any questions or assistance you may need.