“In order to predict the future, you must create it.” Peter Drucker
The most difficult aspect of purpose is change. Aristotle recognized that a life is worth living that contemplates happiness in the end. A life with purpose, Telos. (This is likened to the Journey of Hope.) The challenge is the change that purpose creates. People have four times the emotional connection to loss than they do gain. So although there are good intentions of purpose, our focus most often turned to that which we lose. In fact, it is important that we create a 10X Factor to that which we hope to gain to balance our emotional attachment to that which is lost.
This is true also and especially for those experiencing homelessness. Too often people will rant about how others “want to be homeless”. That is like arguing people want to be poor, overweight, underpaid, unappreciated, uncomfortable or un…. Most people live in a certain state that they would prefer to change. I contend that people do not want to be homeless. Homelessness sometimes is a rational economic choice. Too often homelessness is that which is known, accepted, normalized, and has with it loss factors that must be considered.
Therefore to reduce homelessness, The Salvation Army is implementing a Quality of Life by Choice at the Quality Life Center. We refer to it to SRQLife for short. Quality of Life by Choice
must recognize the loss that persons experience when they move from homelessness to shelter and housing. We also recognize that each time something is normalized (homelessness, shelter, housing) there is a loss that is recognized with change. Remember not wanting to leave camp, anxiety about leaving high school, college, the military (thank you), or other groups of connectedness. This is human and must be considered.
The Salvation Army QLife response to homelessness offers three (3) days of comfort (at no charge) that allows 24 hours of rest and refreshment. The expectation is that the person meet with a case worker by 11 AM each day. After the three days the person will have the opportunity of four (4) days of choice. During this time the person and a case manager will review the subjective quality of life choices so that the person can choose their goals. Three choices and three goals chosen are powerful in minimizing loss. (The math can be explained as beneficial.) Once there is a determination that the goals have more attraction than the loss than the person can choose twenty-one (21) days of change (at no cost). This will give time to work out the minimum intervention, maximum choice plan of action toward housing (PATH).
After the twenty-eight (28) days the person will contribute 30% of income to program services. This is economically sound for the organization and the person, as free food and free shelter with free length of stay increases homelessness. This is an investment in their choices, in their personal PATH.
The forecast is that the majority of persons can be assisted to a different level of service within fifty-eight (58) days. The Salvation Army is one of 27 agencies in the SunCoast Partnership to End Homelessness. Part of the PATH design will be connecting the right resources to maximize individual choice to minimum intervention of community resources to stabilize housing.
Now in policy it seems simple, but there are some truths that will have to be considered in the public square. The first is that not everyone who comes to or through Sarasota City or County can be housed here. We have one of the highest housing burdens in the country. The idea is economically irrational. Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s commissioned report on the housing crisis is pivotal to this understanding. So while we serve all, not all should choose this community for housing. The affluent recognize this reality as well. It is not discriminatory, it is economics.
Second, the choices offered will not always be chosen. It is easy then to say, “they choose to be homeless”, but I contend that we have not found the 10X factor for them yet. It behooves the community to try again as our success is much more cost-effective than our failure, no matter what your opinion of the person or process.
Third and finally, humans act as humans. Those serving, donating, changing, receiving act all too human and there will be errors, assumptions, and missteps. Being human is not the reason to give in, but to fight together. That is why we are The Salvation Army.
Be assured that we will continue to fight forward reflecting the quality of our community in the lives of others, increasing the quality of life for all.
It is my intent that this blog series include original thought, links to reliable research, and create a platform for public dialogues. Please share your thoughts and comments. Know that it would be my pleasure to assist you with innovative program design for collective impact.
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