Bob Price deserves our sincere thanks for discovering the “missing link” needed to resolve our local homeless problem (“It's cold, they're homeless and we'll study it,” Nov. 10).
In his story, he quotes a research report at the recent California Economic Summit in Fresno. It listed four strategies essential to eliminate homelessness in our communities:
- create local accountability standards based on homelessness data
- decrease the inflow of at-risk people into homelessness
- address those on the streets now
- provide exit strategies that involve permanent housing.
The second strategy is the “missing link” we absolutely must include, not continue to ignore. This is best described as proactive prevention of homelessness through early intervention. Early signs of its root causes are consistently viewed by family members, clergy, mental healthcare professionals, teachers and others. Rarely, if ever, can public institutions do so early on. Their focus is on the essential, yet reactive, assistance needed through temporary housing, professional counsel, job training and ultimately permanent housing.
As critical as are these public sector services, they represent only reactive treatment of symptoms, not proactive prevention of root causes. The former only perpetuates the problem. The latter permanently prevents it.
That’s what is needed — but not how to do so.
A private sector collaborative is needed to divert potential homeless to a more positive path in life — and do so without any public funding. This collaborative is under consideration by a most appropriate confluence of local non-profit organizations.
I hope they will adopt this vision — and its permanent solution.
John Pryor, Bakersfield