[Hpn] Homeless Initiative
Tue, 23 Nov 2004 16:56:55 -0500
Companies, charities join to aid chronically homeless
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jimmie Edwards says he's thankful he no longer sleeps on
the streets, that a "supportive housing" program helped him find a permanent
home and regain his health.
On Tuesday, a group of financial institutions and charitable organizations
pledged $37 million in grants and loans to produce 150,000 more supportive
housing units nationwide over the next decade.
"Supportive housing is a hand up, not a handout," Carla Javits, president of
Corporation for Supportive Housing, said at a news conference announcing the
new Partnership to End Long-Term Homelessness. The corporation is among
several private groups receiving the new aid.
As opposed to shelters, most people in supportive housing have leases and
pay rent. They get permanent beds as well as services like job training and
mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Edwards, 56, says he suffered from depression, diabetes and alcohol
addiction between 1990 and 1996 while homeless in the Minneapolis area.
That's when he entered a supportive housing program that helped him get
healthy, find a job and reconnect with his family.
Edwards left the program in 2002. He lives in a one-bedroom apartment in
Hopkins, Minn., and has a job as adviser to those experiencing what he went
"Today, I'm in total control of my life," he said.
Supportive housing is geared toward helping the "chronically homeless" —
those who are without a home full time, year around. They often suffer from
mental illness, drug addiction or chronic diseases such as AIDS, and many
also are victims of abuse.
They shuttle among shelters, jail cells, treatment centers and sleeping on
The government has no data on the number of homeless in America; the
partnership estimates about 250,000 are chronically homeless.
The partnership, which includes Deutsche Bank and Fannie Mae, says it will
need more than $37 million to finance its project. So officials hope to
influence other companies and charities to pitch in.
Most of all, proponents want to persuade public officials to devote more
money to supportive housing. Such projects can save money for cash-strapped
cities, said a report from the Lewin Group, a Falls Church, Va., consulting
firm, that was released in conjunction with the partnership's announcement.
For example, the report said a day in supportive housing in New York City
costs $31.23, compared with a day in jail ($164.57), a psychiatric center
($467) or a community hospital ($1,185).
One obstacle, the housing corporation's Javits said, is that it takes time
for a supportive housing program to accumulate money because it must be
requested from many government funding sources.
Other groups involved in the partnership are the Conrad H. Hilton
Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
the Melville Charitable Trust and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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