GUEST BLOG: Tod Schneider is an old friend and has posted blogs here on CPTED in schools. Since then we have posted many blogs on homeless issues such as homeless reduction and tactical urbanism in Portland. Here, Tod shares his latest innovative work on homeless shelters.
by Tod Schneider, Executive Director, Community Homeless Shelters
Most homeless camps have a bad rap for good reasons: they’re poorly designed, if designed at all; they’re under-funded if they’re funded at all; they’re managed by people unequipped to manage at all; and they’re sheltering primarily people who are wrestling with severe life crises.
Community Supported Shelters is different. We have an approach that works. We shelter people with few resources who would like help pulling their lives back together. Our effectiveness is reflected in the widespread support we receive from the homeless population, the advocate community, the police, and the local government.
Although NIMBY continues to be a challenge, we even have widespread support from the general public, reflected in the $350,000 in private donations we received last year. Here are the key ingredients that work for us:
Many people start out needing help with basic needs: replacing lost I.D., lost teeth, and lost dignity, making supportive friends or finding a decent meal, getting used to people looking them in the eye, or calling them by name.
Two out of three of our campers move on to better circumstances in less than a year. We started with one hut, next to a church, in a wary community. We added three camps over the next half dozen years, and support started to grow. In September 2020, the local government, having seen our effectiveness, came to us with enthusiasm, pulled out their checkbooks and funded five new camps. We’ll be sheltering 160 people in 8 camps by somewhere around Valentine’s Day.
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