To the editor:
The Wichita metro area has seen a whopping 51 percent drop in its long-term homeless population since 2005. Nationally, there has been a 39 percent decline despite the recession. The reason for this encouraging trend is a paradigm shift among those who serve the homeless. Instead of just using the Band-aid approach of homeless shelters, social service providers have adopted the “permanent supportive housing” approach.
According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 30), this approach provides “immediate access to affordable rental housing without requiring participation in psychiatric or sobriety treatment, a common deterrent for many homeless people.” Once the long-term homeless are settled in and have a stable living environment, they are “offered a range of services to help them maintain their housing, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, health care and job training.”
It should be noted that permanent supportive housing removes the stigma of being homeless and it is also cheaper than alternatives. Other beneficial programs that provide emergency rent and utility assistance actually help to prevent homelessness. Combined these programs are solving a problem in America many thought was unsolvable.