Turning homeless people away

Not Cool: Solid Ground has a great track record with the people we serve, supporting them in reaching their goals for stable housing, managing nutrition, and making a better life. But what about the folks we turn away?

In 2009, our Family Shelter program served 108 families (399 individuals) and turned away 5,839 requests for shelter. 804 requests were denied in July 2009 alone!sign in window showing the Shelter is FULL

In 2009, our Broadview Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing program turned away 5,658 requests for shelter from women and their kids, the majority of whom are fleeing from domestic violence.

Our Sand Point Family Housing does not track turnaways, but the other turnaway numbers could be combined to make this general statement:

In 2009, Solid Ground Housing programs were forced to turn away more than 10,000 requests for shelter.

We are careful to phrase this as “requests for shelter” were turned away, because we do not have the ability to verify if the requests are unduplicated. So, while it would not be accurate to say that 10,000 households were turned away, it would certainly be fair to say that however you analyze the number, it reflects WAY TOO MANY people for whom there is no room at the inn.

Solid Ground is just one provider of emergency shelter and transitional housing in our community. You can bet the various programs at the Y, CCS, DESC and everyone else is turning folks away at similar rates.

Clearly our community needs to find a way to do more to respond to the entrenched epidemic that is homelessness.

Prevention trumps shelter and long-term housing

The disagreements between some homeless folks & their organizations (SHARE/WHEEL, Nickelsville and Real Change) and the officials of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness continue to grow in intensity and fervor. You can read about the “Declaration of a State of Emergency” on the SHARE/WHEEL site, and Judy Lightfoot’s  article in Crosscut covers the debate in succinct terms while offering some fascinating insight on the community organizing efforts in the homeless camp. 


illustration by Rainer Waldman Adkins

But, in all the debate about which is more critically needed, emergency shelter or long-term housing, we have lost track of quiet efforts at preventing homelessness that have been amazingly successful at keeping folks off the streets and out of the system. Continue reading

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