Written by Gage Thompson of Cedar Rapids, IA
Over half a million people in America are currently experiencing homelessness according to recent data from the University of Chicago. Our fellow Americans are without so much that the majority of us take for granted, down to the basic necessities of running water, knowing where their next meal is coming from, to having a warm blanket to sleep with at night. The consistent stress of not knowing how to meet your basic needs can take a physical and mental toll on anyone. Without the financial and supportive resources to visit healthcare clinics, needed treatments can be ignored for far too long. All these factors quickly snowball to the point that our own neighbors can find themselves in dire states of physical and mental unwellness.
Seeing someone in this state can quickly become too emotionally distressing for the average person to meaningfully provide assistance in a way which honors the autonomy and dignity of those experiencing homelessness. It is very easy to lose sight of how the comforts with which we are privileged are inseparably tied to the support we have received from those around us.
The Housing First (HF) model addresses these issues in a way which acknowledges the importance of this support. HF first and foremost reinforces a person’s sense of autonomy by providing stable housing as a first step to self-sufficiency and long-term stability. Studies published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health h