It is my feeling that the Homeless have long been looked upon as a plague on society, draining it’s resources. That may be true, but it is only true, due to a shared misunderstanding of the illness of Homelessness, affecting both the Homeless, themselves, and their Host Cities. Therefore, the wrong Remedies are applied. The remedy I propose can simultaneously heal both the city and the homeless. It transforms a City, bogged down by impersonal costly and cumbersome policies, into a collection of inter-connected, cost-effective Villages, based on volunteerism and donations. This transformation makes it possible to implement protocol that empowers the Homeless to gradually evolve into secure, trustworthy, purposeful Citizens with the skills and habit of giving back to the community that gave them shelter, guidance and means. This works effectively, only, when both the homeless, and community services are compelled to engage in the evolutionary process. The homeless must not have the enabling option of falling back to the dole of food, clothing and shelter. And Service Centers may not be enabled by expectations of financial doles for uncooperative or undermining of the community effort.
1. “The poor in your midst are My trust. Guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.” Baha’u’llah
This principle does not tell us to “provide for” the poor, but to “guard,” or protect them as a “trust,” or investment in the good of others, beyond just themselves.
2.“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone reveal it’s treasures and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” Baha’‘ullah
Maria Montessori presented her vision of “the developmental life of a human being as a sequence of (4) births. An earlier plane always prepares for the one that follows, forms it’s basis, and nurtures the energies, which urge the individual towards the succeeding periods of life. If the (individual) is allowed to unfold according to it’s natural development, and is provided with the right environment, he/she can offer his/her gifts to the rest of society.” Other researchers have added further insights that if one “birth”, or fulfilled vital need, is missed, it must be returned to and addressed, before the individual can move forward in his/her personal and social development.
In regard to the homeless, their individual planes of function must be assessed to determine their entry level into the program. Progressive stages of housing, services and expectations, must all be appropriate to that level of development. Progress through these steps is self-determined. When a soul demonstrates a functional mastery of each vital plane, he is progressed to a higher level of housing, with the accompanying means to pursue higher levels of development.
3. “The base of life is ... mutual aid and helpfulness.... The more the world aspires to civilization, the more this important matter of cooperation becomes manifest. “Abdu’l-Baha
This principle emphatically states that “helpfulness” and “aid” must be “mutual.” Co-operation makes partners of giver and receiver. In order to efficiently build a purposeful and caring community with like minded citizens, organizations and businesses; a data base, must be developed which matches human and material resources with individuals of various levels of need. This data base would provide venues for collaborative efforts, sometimes in different areas of the city, around which new “villages” may emerge, depending on means and need. The different villages could be named and the city would be able to quickly identify areas of established services, needs and opportunities; announce events and schedule volunteers.
A national website, BayToBayServices.org, would also provide a common point of inspiration and communication with other cities, giving each an opportunity to interface with and learn from eachother. It would also provide a link to other cities where vacancies may be available.
4. Be not deceived...for whatsoever a man soeth, that shall he also reap.
With this component of logical consequences for their actions, positive and negative, woven into the prescription for healing homelessness, the evolving homeless would become better equipped to develop an empowering life-style. Privileges and rewards are earned by behaviors that demonstrate an evolving understanding of service, responsibility, obedience, initiatives and self-determination. These same privileges and rewards can be suspended, or revoked, as a res ult of their own actions, or lack thereof, as well.
B. Four Vital, Successive Needs, or Planes in Human Development.
1.The most fundamental need in human development is to feel safe, secure and experience a loving environment to develop a deep sense of well-being.
a. Micro-pods fulfill Level 1 needs for personal safety and security of self, clothes and few belongings.
A Micro-pod “village” would be assembled around a site that is already providing basic human needs of clothing, food, shelter (dorms), bathrooms and showers. If some of these services are not already being provided, the center would be modified to do so. There would be a security camera pointed at this pod village to insure the safety of both the inhabitants, the facility and the neighborhood. Before, this, the homeless are told that once the Healing Homelessness Program begins, all outside forms of support and sustenance, will cease, and there will be basic “ground rules” for residence and progression into increasing levels of housing, jobs, education and life-style Therefore, they must register for the program, and show up, to begin collecting materials and assembling these pods, in teams with community volunteers. From that time, they will receive three meals, each day, while in the program.
These micro-pods are attractive “doll houses” with a porch and and would become level-1
While single men and women, or couples, are to occupy the pods in the “neighborhood outside the providing facility, there would be a room created for at least one family inside the facility. This tiny, family “aPODment” would be furnished with built in bunks, for the children, and a “storage sofa bed” for the parent(s) Their own family bathroom, would be designed to easily tap into existing water and sewage sources. Preferably this aPODment would have an outside door, and porch, facing the pod neighborhood. They would take meals in the “dining hall” with others. Children would be walked to school, or the nearest school bus stop, by parents. The primary care-giving parent of very young children would work in the facility, itself, so they may attend to their young ones. If there are more than 2-3 homeless families, on level 1/2 planes of development, the city needs to identify other service facilities to distribute them among. If they were previously functional families who lost jobs, etc. they could be progressed to L-3 housing.
b. Community Services earn respect and restores dignity and sense of well- being.
Participants would be required to “volunteer” at least 4 hours a day in, or around the center and neighborhood. This could range from food preparation and other services at the Center, to neighborhood maintenance and beautification--picking up trash, planting and maintaining roadside strips, etc.Not only would they immediately stop being “Homeless,” but they would become an immediate asset to the community. They are helping to build a loving and nurturing environment, not only for themselves, but with their “neighbors.” They also know they have started on a journey of advancement in quality of life which is designed for success and conditioned on their own willingness to learn and increase in skills, capacity and service.
2. Their next level of need is to acquire culture, to work and play together, share, be obedient and improve their communication skills.
a. The first step in this progression would be to learn the positive consequences of obedience to simple, “ground rules,” and negative consequences of disobedience.
i. Panhandling would be forbidden. In the place of that, to earn some “spending money,” they would, again, become assets to the community, by performing simple street theater, plus arts & crafts market, and accepting donations.
ii. Drug and alcohol support would be offered, but not required, unless their use becomes a disturbance to the Village, or neighboring community, at which time it would become mandatory.
iii. Drug dealing, of any kind, would be forbidden, with street theater/market being provided as a first means of legitimate income. If caught, they would go before a board of their peers and oversight committee, to consider degree and circumstances and decide whether they would be immediately evicted from the program and jailed, or given another, conditional, opportunity to redeem himself/ herself and utilize the constructive means of developing income, offered.
iv. Marijuana, being recognized as a “gateway to “ hard drugs, could be employed as a “gateway away from” them, as well. Medical Marijuana could be purchased from the serving facility, with donated earnings, on a limited basis to help them ease away from drug/alcohol use.
v. No visitors after 10:00 pm, or over-night.
vi. Clean clothes and linens are given in exchange for dirty items. Damaged items will be repaired by the resident. All clothes must be labeled (iron on, with name) so the same clothes are given back to the same resident. No laundry, debris or trash is allowed outside their pods.
vii. Sinks and showers must be sprayed with a cleanser and wiped down after using, with provided cleansers and cloths.
b. Retention and advancement in the levels of development are as individuals or as a couple.
Many homeless couples are loyal to one another out of need for mutual provision and safety. This safety and provision of needs have been achieved through the program, so, if they wish to remain in, and progress in the program, as a couple, they must nurture mutual progress in eachother. If one is not obedient to the rules, or fails to progress, he/she may not “ride on the coat-tails” of the other to remain or progress in the program. And, likewise, if one is progressing and cannot nurture the other to progress with them, the progressive one must make a choice, either to progress along, or remain at the level of their partner.
c. To protect the participants from uncontrolled access to drugs and alcohol, it is highly recommended that social security be contacted on behalf of those homeless who receive disability or retirement checks. Discretionary income could be disbursed for controlled use of medical marijuana and other desires, as they show themselves to be responsible in their use, and do not use their funds to justify lack of participation in the volunteer and income earning aspects of the program. They will be saving what is not spent for when they get higher in the program and learn money management and start paying rent, etc. You can probably become their “caretakers” or work with someone who has already been assigned to disburse their funds on two l levels. A reasonable amount can be claimed for services rendered, such as shelter, and basic needs, which will reimburse some of the city expenses for these in the Village funds. Tickets to cultural affairs, etc, that are not donated, could also come from these funds. Education, on line and local college expenses, also, could be taken from these funds as they progress in the system.
d. Recreation, as well as work is important to socializing the Residents.
The parking lot of the facility could accommodate a basketball court. That, plus other sports equipment would provide games that have rules and teach “teammanship.”
e. They will work in and share produce of a community garden, in the ground or containers
They are instructed to plant, and maintain an organic garden with their pod neighbors, in addition to their community service. When the produce is harvested, most is given to the Center to contribute to their meals. In this, they work together to learn and implement another life-skill.
f. Street theater/ street marketing, not only develop discretionary income,but develop communication skills.
Many may already have a known talent or skill to be showcased. Others may have talents and skills that need to be uncovered, discovered and nurtured. Possibilities are endless. These could include teaming up to form a musical group. (and learn to divide up donations by levels of expertise contributed ie: lead musician & singer vs. “back up” musicians & singers.) Someone with a love for words, could make up a haiku based on requested information and writing it down for the recipient. They could paint “Slow Down - Look- Savor” on tee shirts and pantomime ultra slow walks down the street or a market place, looking intently and appreciatively at what is around them, interacting with people on the street. People engaged, could donate to a back pouch worn by the traveling mimes. Individuals could extend the greeting, “Hello from my Heart” to a passer- by, then engage him/her in conversation. The founder of this movement has statistics on how this has had positive impact on the crime rate and violence in communities, globally. He is also willing to contribute beginning stickers, to give out to souls, thus engaged, with the website URL that explains this mission. Others can be making and accepting donations for crafts, and art. The venue for these activities would rotate.
3. The third plane of development is where an individual needs to develop his/her intelligence, creativity and capacity, plus useful life skills.
The living room would be utilized for shared TV. viewing, “family consultations,” and any group work-shops, such as financial planning. At least one meal a day would be taken as a “family,” discussing their day’s challenges, successes and aspirations. The kitchen would be the center for acquiring other life-skills such as organizing shopping, meal planning, and cooking.
The same ground rules introduced at level 2, would apply. To them would be added simple social rules such as chosen by the “house family,” as apply to the additional programs.
Efforts will be made to match interests and talents to part-time jobs offered by local business in the apprenticeship program, offered at this level. They will be giving the equivalent of 5 - 4 hr. days to their employment, and the equivalent of 5-3 hr. days to community service. And they will be given a small stipend by the business owner to begin with, which will increase as the apprentice becomes increasingly valuable, to the business and it’s profitability.
Level 3 participants would be provided with a bike for transportation to apprenticeship jobs and service projects. In their aPODMENT, they would have their own desk and a reconditioned, donated, desk-top computer (not lap-top) giving them the private space and internet access to pursue their education, starting with a G.E.D, if they have not, yet, obtained that. To add value to, and therefore discretionary income from, their mentoring business, they would be encouraged to pursue the acquisition of skills and/ or certification, through on line courses. Theaters and other entertainment and cultural outlets would be encouraged to donate a portion of their tickets, to the Village Vision program. When the oversight committee becomes aware of such programs, it will contact the venue and request donation of tickets. Maybe they could arrange standing invitations to “dress rehearsal” nights, as well.
By this point, full obedience to civil laws would be required, including the non-use of controlled substances. Medical Marijuana would no longer be provided, but could be applied for, and paid for, from his/her own funds, unless provided free from another public service.
Alcohol would not be included in the “family food budget,” but could be purchased from personal funds. If “alcoholism,” or any other addiction, is identified and interferes with personal safety, job, or “house family” relations, a “family” intervention would be held, and enrollment in a support group would be required. As before, furnishings, privileges and opportunities would be extended, or revoked, depending on the responsible use of them, and obedience to the ground rules.
4. The Last Plane of Development would be to: Become Aware of and Develop Personal Talents, Formulating them into a Purposeful Life of Value and Service.
At this level of development, participants have become considerably more self- determined in planning their job, career or entrepreneurial futures. Occasionally multiplexes or small apartment buildings will become available for claim through eminent domain. Typically, a single apartment can be converted to, from two to four, or even five, aPODments. Examples of conversions will be provided, also, via a pass code on BayToBayServiceS.org.
As soon as they achieve a satisfying job or a career which is financially remunerative enough to support a humane quality of live in the outside community, they may choose to move on to standard homes and lives in the greater community,. If there are vacant aPODments still available, they may choose to stay on, with increased rent, but the same requirements of obedience to civil laws, pro-rated rent and community service would prevail. In either event, they will have evolved into beings who “give back” in gratitude to the community that empowered them.
In the beginning, the number of New Village Participants living in, or evolving to Level 4 Tiny Homes and aPODments, will be fewer. This gives the Village time to create more conversions, as others evolve through the ranks.
As homes become available, through imminent domain, and are not being utilized by the homeless, any of these L-3/L-4 homes could also be utilized by working poor who are working full, or part time at minimum wage jobs and rely on welfare support to survive.
This housing also serves as an example to landlords, in the greater community, that converting some of their rental units to Tiny aPODments would be a win/win investment for them and the working poor. This would give the landlord income for more rental units, and it would provide opportunity for the working poor, especially with families, to have a home that provides a simple, yet quality life-style that does not consume all they make in their minimum wage jobs. They could get the jump on and lead the way in the Tiny House Trend.
Please, reflect on, donate toward the continuation of this program, then choose to implement this proposal through the step-by-step protocol provided, via the service code on BayToBayServiceS.org. be a Leader in Growing Community in your City, with the New Village Vision.
Phase 4 of the Healing Homelessness Proposal is a simple, suggested step-by-step protocol for developing and nurturing the support, cooperation, and collaboration of other service organizations, businesses and individuals of capacity, in order to grow productive and nurturing “Villages” which, when integrated, lead to City Transformation.
Also, the phase 4 protocol suggests, introducing neighboring cities to this program. When they donate to and access the phases and protocol of facilitation, they enlarge your city’s data base of functioning housing to an inter-community data base and can accommodate homeless that originated in their cities, but emigrated to the one that had a working program to assist and evolve them. In addition, with neighboring cities offering the same program, they could, as part of the same data base, coordinate accommodating overages with vacancies in each stage of the program.