Written by Chuck Hindman - Alliance Chair -- How much progress is the Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless making to reduce homelessness? We are frequently asked, what is the success rate?
Answering such a question begins with a reality check for those who have never lived on the street.
Think about it. We take for granted a number of resources that homeless folks may lack.
An address to receive important mail.
ID or even a birth certificate.
The ability to read and write at a functional level.
Money for a laundromat – not to mention the means of getting clothing to and from the laundromat.
A place to take a shower.
Knowing where to find help in “the system.”
A checking account.
Fitness - for a lot of walking, since buses only run at certain times to certain places. And some jobs require commuting at odd hours.
An acceptable credit history without evictions when unable to pay rent.
A person living in a tiny home village for the homeless in Eugene, Oregon once commented: “People talk about getting out of homelessness as if it were a single step. Actually, it’s a series of giant leaps.”
Some would say that just having a Sleeping Center is success enough. After all, we safely shelter a third to a half of the unsheltered homeless in the county – something that didn’t exist two years ago and is rarely found in other places. We are frequently contacted by other communities hoping to replicate some of our success.
However, we strive to improve. Eliminating homelessness may be a pipe dream, but we see unmet needs every night that could be met to make a difference for people. We keep learning new approaches that can help clients overcome barriers. It’s hard to measure that kind of success, and not every strategy proves to be effective.
On the other hand, we are pretty certain of the success rate if we do nothing.