[Hpn] Helping the homeless,one person at a time

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Mon, 24 Dec 2007 04:31:49 -0500


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http://www.tallahassee.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=3D/20071224/OPINI=
ON05/712240319/1006/OPINION

December 24, 2007

Helping the homeless,one person at a time

      By Debra Benjamin=20
       =20

It wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't a life goal. It wasn't even =
scribbled onto the five-year-plan.=20

It just sort of happened that I moved a homeless couple into my personal =
residence a few months ago.=20

      ADVERTISEMENT=20
     =20
Though I frequently pray for both displaced people and animals to find =
adequate shelter, my personal focus has been dedicated to assisting =
homeless animals. Until recently, I figured a power far greater than I =
could work out a way to help homeless and displaced people.=20

People who assist animal-rescue efforts are avid shelter observers, =
carefully noting the hours and days left on the dance cards of our =
four-legged friends. Rescuers, without a whimper, routinely drag home =
all varieties of animals, including mama cats and dogs complete with =
color-coordinated litters of kittens or puppies when their time runs out =
at the shelter. Rescuers evaluate the pets, rehabilitate if necessary, =
spay or neuter, and look for prospective adopters whose lifestyles are a =
good fit with the animal.=20

Though I knew that homelessness of the two-legged-variety existed, it =
wasn't part of my routine to visit homeless shelters with the intention =
of "adopting out" the inhabitants.=20

Perhaps I should have listened to wise voices warning "be careful for =
what you pray." Ken Foster in "The Dogs Who Found Me" wrote, "People =
ignore stray dogs the same way they ignore stray people." Foster's =
message implies that, if a person sees or acknowledges a situation in =
need of time or attention, then that individual may have to take =
responsibility and do something about it. A person may have to get =
involved. That's why some people look the other way.=20

Recent Tallahassee Democrat articles have addressed the topics of a =
"residentially challenged" young man, of the need for more affordable =
housing, and of concerns by the Home Builders Association that society's =
challenge to construct low-cost or affordable housing would become the =
responsibility of their membership.=20

As I watch first-hand from the safe distance of my kitchen table, I see =
the homeward-bound couple Lily and Edward struggle to get back on their =
feet. The breadth and depth of their challenges have come home to roost. =
Community leaders, social workers, case workers, civic organization =
members and police who serve the homeless population are already quite =
familiar with the layers and intricacies of their plight.=20

Like me, however, the average person with a mortgage, car payment, =
family responsibilities and her own favorite charities may spend little =
if any time contemplating the complexities of a homeless existence. =
Through the homeward-bound couple now residing at my house, I have =
acquired a front-row seat at the theater of the homeless.=20

Various stagehands (social service agencies) providing food stamps, =
disability, etc. assist in this theater. In the glare of the spotlight, =
however, to reach a stagehand, a homeless person's mandatory props are =
phone and Internet access.=20

Applications for food stamps are taken online, which means a homeless =
person must find a computer with Internet access. Further, those food =
stamp applications are followed with official paperwork delivered via =
the U.S. Postal Service. A homeless person must find an address. Food =
stamp applications for Tallahassee are processed in Madison and Quincy. =
When the paperwork arrives, the words instruct "call between 8 and 10 =
a.m." or "between 2 and 4 p.m." If a homeless person has no cell phone, =
no calling card or coins for a pay phone, he or she must locate a phone =
to use during designated hours.=20

Though various social-service agencies offer programs to assist the =
"residentially challenged," Tallahassee has only four shelters, one of =
which charges nightly, weekly and monthly. The next time you are =
approached for a handout, don't assume that it's for wine; it might be =
one night's rent at a local homeless shelter.=20

Stereotypes abound for homeless, underprivileged, low-income, elderly =
and disabled people. If you've heard the one about people "abusing the =
system," it may be true some of the time. However, from what I have =
observed, it can require a legal team and/or calls from two competent, =
helpful case workers to a congressman's office to obtain the simplest of =
government forms and information.=20

Though the lines between the very poor and homeless may be blurred, it =
is important for us as a society to review our relationship with people =
who need help. The waiting list for subsidized, affordable housing in =
Leon County currently exceeds 3,800 families and individuals.=20

No one industry, such as home builders, should carry the entire weight =
of this challenge. Like homeless people, not all home builders are =
created equal. However, home builders - those with hundreds and =
thousands of acres - who receive benefit of local, state and federal =
revenues for roads and infrastructure should be looked at as a source of =
land to accommodate affordable housing.=20

Many an animal rescue volunteer has been warned or consoled, "You can't =
save them all."=20

As a community, maybe we can't provide all of the affordable housing =
units that we need this year. However, we can set a goal to decrease by =
25 percent the number on the waiting list next year and by 50 percent =
the following year.=20

Perhaps Tallahassee can sponsor and showcase an international design =
competition for green, energy-efficient and affordable housing. Let's =
face it. If we build and create affordable housing for people living on =
$600 to $1,000 per month, they still will be unable to afford the $400 =
utility bill that some poor Tallahassee residents pay.=20

Perhaps we can explore safe and healthy ways to bring some of the people =
on waiting lists for affordable housing into established households so =
that they can benefit from financial, nutritional, legal, medical and =
social mentoring.=20

Some states and communities train prospective foster parents to prepare =
for challenges they may face with children in their care. Maybe other =
people like myself would be willing to bring an individual or family =
into their homes if a network of assistance existed. These services =
would include community and social resources such as criminal background =
checks, reference and drug screenings, and a carefully guided matching =
system (similar to practices used to place foster children).=20

My efforts to assist the couple were modeled after those of a =
Tallahassee real-estate agent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, =
when some survivors ended up in area shelters. The agent took recovery =
into her own hands. She removed one of her properties from the market, =
drove to the rescue shelter, and placed one of the hurricane survivor =
families into her dwelling. She called upon her extensive social and =
business network to provide food, funds, and furnishings to assist the =
family.=20

My homeward-bound couple has pursued assistance from a variety of =
church, community service, legal, medical and governmental agencies. In =
addition, we have called upon my personal network of friends, =
acquaintances and neighbors to assist in efforts to get this couple back =
on their feet. Many have donated time, talent, resources and =
professional services.=20

Yes. It is important to provide affordable housing. An equally important =
challenge is to help people rebuild their lives.=20

Debra Benjamin=20

My View=20

It wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't a life goal. It wasn't even =
scribbled onto the five-year-plan.=20

It just sort of happened that I moved a homeless couple into my personal =
residence a few months ago.=20

Though I frequently pray for both displaced people and animals to find =
adequate shelter, my personal focus has been dedicated to assisting =
homeless animals. Until recently, I figured a power far greater than I =
could work out a way to help homeless and displaced people.=20

People who assist animal-rescue efforts are avid shelter observers, =
carefully noting the hours and days left on the dance cards of our =
four-legged friends. Rescuers, without a whimper, routinely drag home =
all varieties of animals, including mama cats and dogs complete with =
color-coordinated litters of kittens or puppies when their time runs out =
at the shelter. Rescuers evaluate the pets, rehabilitate if necessary, =
spay or neuter, and look for prospective adopters whose lifestyles are a =
good fit with the animal.=20

Though I knew that homelessness of the two-legged-variety existed, it =
wasn't part of my routine to visit homeless shelters with the intention =
of "adopting out" the inhabitants.=20

Perhaps I should have listened to wise voices warning "be careful for =
what you pray." Ken Foster in "The Dogs Who Found Me" wrote, "People =
ignore stray dogs the same way they ignore stray people." Foster's =
message implies that, if a person sees or acknowledges a situation in =
need of time or attention, then that individual may have to take =
responsibility and do something about it. A person may have to get =
involved. That's why some people look the other way.=20

Recent Tallahassee Democrat articles have addressed the topics of a =
"residentially challenged" young man, of the need for more affordable =
housing, and of concerns by the Home Builders Association that society's =
challenge to construct low-cost or affordable housing would become the =
responsibility of their membership.=20

As I watch first-hand from the safe distance of my kitchen table, I see =
the homeward-bound couple Lily and Edward struggle to get back on their =
feet. The breadth and depth of their challenges have come home to roost. =
Community leaders, social workers, case workers, civic organization =
members and police who serve the homeless population are already quite =
familiar with the layers and intricacies of their plight.=20

Like me, however, the average person with a mortgage, car payment, =
family responsibilities and her own favorite charities may spend little =
if any time contemplating the complexities of a homeless existence. =
Through the homeward-bound couple now residing at my house, I have =
acquired a front-row seat at the theater of the homeless.=20

Various stagehands (social service agencies) providing food stamps, =
disability, etc. assist in this theater. In the glare of the spotlight, =
however, to reach a stagehand, a homeless person's mandatory props are =
phone and Internet access.=20

Applications for food stamps are taken online, which means a homeless =
person must find a computer with Internet access. Further, those food =
stamp applications are followed with official paperwork delivered via =
the U.S. Postal Service. A homeless person must find an address. Food =
stamp applications for Tallahassee are processed in Madison and Quincy. =
When the paperwork arrives, the words instruct "call between 8 and 10 =
a.m." or "between 2 and 4 p.m." If a homeless person has no cell phone, =
no calling card or coins for a pay phone, he or she must locate a phone =
to use during designated hours.=20

Though various social-service agencies offer programs to assist the =
"residentially challenged," Tallahassee has only four shelters, one of =
which charges nightly, weekly and monthly. The next time you are =
approached for a handout, don't assume that it's for wine; it might be =
one night's rent at a local homeless shelter.=20

Stereotypes abound for homeless, underprivileged, low-income, elderly =
and disabled people. If you've heard the one about people "abusing the =
system," it may be true some of the time. However, from what I have =
observed, it can require a legal team and/or calls from two competent, =
helpful case workers to a congressman's office to obtain the simplest of =
government forms and information.=20

Though the lines between the very poor and homeless may be blurred, it =
is important for us as a society to review our relationship with people =
who need help. The waiting list for subsidized, affordable housing in =
Leon County currently exceeds 3,800 families and individuals.=20

No one industry, such as home builders, should carry the entire weight =
of this challenge. Like homeless people, not all home builders are =
created equal. However, home builders - those with hundreds and =
thousands of acres - who receive benefit of local, state and federal =
revenues for roads and infrastructure should be looked at as a source of =
land to accommodate affordable housing.=20

Many an animal rescue volunteer has been warned or consoled, "You can't =
save them all."=20

As a community, maybe we can't provide all of the affordable housing =
units that we need this year. However, we can set a goal to decrease by =
25 percent the number on the waiting list next year and by 50 percent =
the following year.=20

Perhaps Tallahassee can sponsor and showcase an international design =
competition for green, energy-efficient and affordable housing. Let's =
face it. If we build and create affordable housing for people living on =
$600 to $1,000 per month, they still will be unable to afford the $400 =
utility bill that some poor Tallahassee residents pay.=20

Perhaps we can explore safe and healthy ways to bring some of the people =
on waiting lists for affordable housing into established households so =
that they can benefit from financial, nutritional, legal, medical and =
social mentoring.=20

Some states and communities train prospective foster parents to prepare =
for challenges they may face with children in their care. Maybe other =
people like myself would be willing to bring an individual or family =
into their homes if a network of assistance existed. These services =
would include community and social resources such as criminal background =
checks, reference and drug screenings, and a carefully guided matching =
system (similar to practices used to place foster children).=20

My efforts to assist the couple were modeled after those of a =
Tallahassee real-estate agent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, =
when some survivors ended up in area shelters. The agent took recovery =
into her own hands. She removed one of her properties from the market, =
drove to the rescue shelter, and placed one of the hurricane survivor =
families into her dwelling. She called upon her extensive social and =
business network to provide food, funds, and furnishings to assist the =
family.=20

My homeward-bound couple has pursued assistance from a variety of =
church, community service, legal, medical and governmental agencies. In =
addition, we have called upon my personal network of friends, =
acquaintances and neighbors to assist in efforts to get this couple back =
on their feet. Many have donated time, talent, resources and =
professional services.=20

Yes. It is important to provide affordable housing. An equally important =
challenge is to help people rebuild their lives.=20

------=_NextPart_001_007F_01C845E5.E614A880
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<DIV><STRONG><A=20
href=3D"http://www.tallahassee.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=3D/200712=
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<DIV><STRONG></STRONG>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><STRONG>December 24, 2007</STRONG></DIV>
<DIV><STRONG></STRONG>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><STRONG><!--HEADLINE--></STRONG><SPAN class=3Dheadline>Helping the=20
homeless,one person at a time</SPAN><BR></DIV>
<DIV>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D445 border=3D0>
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    <TD><SPAN class=3Dbyline>By Debra Benjamin <BR></SPAN></TD>
    <TD vAlign=3Dbottom><!--PRINT THIS ARTICLE--><SPAN=20
      =
class=3Dnewshead>&nbsp;&nbsp;</SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV><SPAN=
=20
class=3Dbodytext>
<P>It wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't a life goal. It wasn't =
even=20
scribbled onto the five-year-plan.=20
<P>It just sort of happened that I moved a homeless couple into my =
personal=20
residence a few months ago.=20
<P>
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    <TD width=3D10></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Though I frequently pray =
for both=20
displaced people and animals to find adequate shelter, my personal focus =
has=20
been dedicated to assisting homeless animals. Until recently, I figured =
a power=20
far greater than I could work out a way to help homeless and displaced =
people.=20
</P>
<P>People who assist animal-rescue efforts are avid shelter observers, =
carefully=20
noting the hours and days left on the dance cards of our four-legged =
friends.=20
Rescuers, without a whimper, routinely drag home all varieties of =
animals,=20
including mama cats and dogs complete with color-coordinated litters of =
kittens=20
or puppies when their time runs out at the shelter. Rescuers evaluate =
the pets,=20
rehabilitate if necessary, spay or neuter, and look for prospective =
adopters=20
whose lifestyles are a good fit with the animal.=20
<P>Though I knew that homelessness of the two-legged-variety existed, it =
wasn't=20
part of my routine to visit homeless shelters with the intention of =
"adopting=20
out" the inhabitants.=20
<P>Perhaps I should have listened to wise voices warning "be careful for =
what=20
you pray." Ken Foster in "The Dogs Who Found Me" wrote, "People ignore =
stray=20
dogs the same way they ignore stray people." Foster's message implies =
that, if a=20
person sees or acknowledges a situation in need of time or attention, =
then that=20
individual may have to take responsibility and do something about it. A =
person=20
may have to get involved. That's why some people look the other way.=20
<P>Recent <I>Tallahassee Democrat </I>articles have addressed the topics =
of a=20
"residentially challenged" young man, of the need for more affordable =
housing,=20
and of concerns by the Home Builders Association that society's =
challenge to=20
construct low-cost or affordable housing would become the responsibility =
of=20
their membership.=20
<P>As I watch first-hand from the safe distance of my kitchen table, I =
see the=20
homeward-bound couple Lily and Edward struggle to get back on their =
feet. The=20
breadth and depth of their challenges have come home to roost. Community =

leaders, social workers, case workers, civic organization members and =
police who=20
serve the homeless population are already quite familiar with the layers =
and=20
intricacies of their plight.=20
<P>Like me, however, the average person with a mortgage, car payment, =
family=20
responsibilities and her own favorite charities may spend little if any =
time=20
contemplating the complexities of a homeless existence. Through the=20
homeward-bound couple now residing at my house, I have acquired a =
front-row seat=20
at the theater of the homeless.=20
<P>Various stagehands (social service agencies) providing food stamps,=20
disability, etc. assist in this theater. In the glare of the spotlight, =
however,=20
to reach a stagehand, a homeless person's mandatory props are phone and =
Internet=20
access.=20
<P>Applications for food stamps are taken online, which means a homeless =
person=20
must find a computer with Internet access. Further, those food stamp=20
applications are followed with official paperwork delivered via the U.S. =
Postal=20
Service. A homeless person must find an address. Food stamp applications =
for=20
Tallahassee are processed in Madison and Quincy. When the paperwork =
arrives, the=20
words instruct "call between 8 and 10 a.m." or "between 2 and 4 p.m." If =
a=20
homeless person has no cell phone, no calling card or coins for a pay =
phone, he=20
or she must locate a phone to use during designated hours.=20
<P>Though various social-service agencies offer programs to assist the=20
"residentially challenged," Tallahassee has only four shelters, one of =
which=20
charges nightly, weekly and monthly. The next time you are approached =
for a=20
handout, don't assume that it's for wine; it might be one night's rent =
at a=20
local homeless shelter.=20
<P>Stereotypes abound for homeless, underprivileged, low-income, elderly =
and=20
disabled people. If you've heard the one about people "abusing the =
system," it=20
may be true some of the time. However, from what I have observed, it can =
require=20
a legal team and/or calls from two competent, helpful case workers to a=20
congressman's office to obtain the simplest of government forms and =
information.=20

<P>Though the lines between the very poor and homeless may be blurred, =
it is=20
important for us as a society to review our relationship with people who =
need=20
help. The waiting list for subsidized, affordable housing in Leon County =

currently exceeds 3,800 families and individuals.=20
<P>No one industry, such as home builders, should carry the entire =
weight of=20
this challenge. Like homeless people, not all home builders are created =
equal.=20
However, home builders =97 those with hundreds and thousands of acres =
=97 who=20
receive benefit of local, state and federal revenues for roads and=20
infrastructure should be looked at as a source of land to accommodate =
affordable=20
housing.=20
<P>Many an animal rescue volunteer has been warned or consoled, "You =
can't save=20
them all."=20
<P>As a community, maybe we can't provide all of the affordable housing =
units=20
that we need this year. However, we can set a goal to decrease by 25 =
percent the=20
number on the waiting list next year and by 50 percent the following =
year.=20
<P>Perhaps Tallahassee can sponsor and showcase an international design=20
competition for green, energy-efficient and affordable housing. Let's =
face it.=20
If we build and create affordable housing for people living on $600 to =
$1,000=20
per month, they still will be unable to afford the $400 utility bill =
that some=20
poor Tallahassee residents pay.=20
<P>Perhaps we can explore safe and healthy ways to bring some of the =
people on=20
waiting lists for affordable housing into established households so that =
they=20
can benefit from financial, nutritional, legal, medical and social =
mentoring.=20
<P>Some states and communities train prospective foster parents to =
prepare for=20
challenges they may face with children in their care. Maybe other people =
like=20
myself would be willing to bring an individual or family into their =
homes if a=20
network of assistance existed. These services would include community =
and social=20
resources such as criminal background checks, reference and drug =
screenings, and=20
a carefully guided matching system (similar to practices used to place =
foster=20
children).=20
<P>My efforts to assist the couple were modeled after those of a =
Tallahassee=20
real-estate agent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when some =
survivors=20
ended up in area shelters. The agent took recovery into her own hands. =
She=20
removed one of her properties from the market, drove to the rescue =
shelter, and=20
placed one of the hurricane survivor families into her dwelling. She =
called upon=20
her extensive social and business network to provide food, funds, and=20
furnishings to assist the family.=20
<P>My homeward-bound couple has pursued assistance from a variety of =
church,=20
community service, legal, medical and governmental agencies. In =
addition, we=20
have called upon my personal network of friends, acquaintances and =
neighbors to=20
assist in efforts to get this couple back on their feet. Many have =
donated time,=20
talent, resources and professional services.=20
<P>Yes. It is important to provide affordable housing. An equally =
important=20
challenge is to help people rebuild their lives.=20
<P>Debra Benjamin=20
<P>My View=20
<P>It wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't a life goal. It wasn't =
even=20
scribbled onto the five-year-plan.=20
<P>It just sort of happened that I moved a homeless couple into my =
personal=20
residence a few months ago.=20
<P>Though I frequently pray for both displaced people and animals to =
find=20
adequate shelter, my personal focus has been dedicated to assisting =
homeless=20
animals. Until recently, I figured a power far greater than I could work =
out a=20
way to help homeless and displaced people.=20
<P>People who assist animal-rescue efforts are avid shelter observers, =
carefully=20
noting the hours and days left on the dance cards of our four-legged =
friends.=20
Rescuers, without a whimper, routinely drag home all varieties of =
animals,=20
including mama cats and dogs complete with color-coordinated litters of =
kittens=20
or puppies when their time runs out at the shelter. Rescuers evaluate =
the pets,=20
rehabilitate if necessary, spay or neuter, and look for prospective =
adopters=20
whose lifestyles are a good fit with the animal.=20
<P>Though I knew that homelessness of the two-legged-variety existed, it =
wasn't=20
part of my routine to visit homeless shelters with the intention of =
"adopting=20
out" the inhabitants.=20
<P>Perhaps I should have listened to wise voices warning "be careful for =
what=20
you pray." Ken Foster in "The Dogs Who Found Me" wrote, "People ignore =
stray=20
dogs the same way they ignore stray people." Foster's message implies =
that, if a=20
person sees or acknowledges a situation in need of time or attention, =
then that=20
individual may have to take responsibility and do something about it. A =
person=20
may have to get involved. That's why some people look the other way.=20
<P>Recent <I>Tallahassee Democrat </I>articles have addressed the topics =
of a=20
"residentially challenged" young man, of the need for more affordable =
housing,=20
and of concerns by the Home Builders Association that society's =
challenge to=20
construct low-cost or affordable housing would become the responsibility =
of=20
their membership.=20
<P>As I watch first-hand from the safe distance of my kitchen table, I =
see the=20
homeward-bound couple Lily and Edward struggle to get back on their =
feet. The=20
breadth and depth of their challenges have come home to roost. Community =

leaders, social workers, case workers, civic organization members and =
police who=20
serve the homeless population are already quite familiar with the layers =
and=20
intricacies of their plight.=20
<P>Like me, however, the average person with a mortgage, car payment, =
family=20
responsibilities and her own favorite charities may spend little if any =
time=20
contemplating the complexities of a homeless existence. Through the=20
homeward-bound couple now residing at my house, I have acquired a =
front-row seat=20
at the theater of the homeless.=20
<P>Various stagehands (social service agencies) providing food stamps,=20
disability, etc. assist in this theater. In the glare of the spotlight, =
however,=20
to reach a stagehand, a homeless person's mandatory props are phone and =
Internet=20
access.=20
<P>Applications for food stamps are taken online, which means a homeless =
person=20
must find a computer with Internet access. Further, those food stamp=20
applications are followed with official paperwork delivered via the U.S. =
Postal=20
Service. A homeless person must find an address. Food stamp applications =
for=20
Tallahassee are processed in Madison and Quincy. When the paperwork =
arrives, the=20
words instruct "call between 8 and 10 a.m." or "between 2 and 4 p.m." If =
a=20
homeless person has no cell phone, no calling card or coins for a pay =
phone, he=20
or she must locate a phone to use during designated hours.=20
<P>Though various social-service agencies offer programs to assist the=20
"residentially challenged," Tallahassee has only four shelters, one of =
which=20
charges nightly, weekly and monthly. The next time you are approached =
for a=20
handout, don't assume that it's for wine; it might be one night's rent =
at a=20
local homeless shelter.=20
<P>Stereotypes abound for homeless, underprivileged, low-income, elderly =
and=20
disabled people. If you've heard the one about people "abusing the =
system," it=20
may be true some of the time. However, from what I have observed, it can =
require=20
a legal team and/or calls from two competent, helpful case workers to a=20
congressman's office to obtain the simplest of government forms and =
information.=20

<P>Though the lines between the very poor and homeless may be blurred, =
it is=20
important for us as a society to review our relationship with people who =
need=20
help. The waiting list for subsidized, affordable housing in Leon County =

currently exceeds 3,800 families and individuals.=20
<P>No one industry, such as home builders, should carry the entire =
weight of=20
this challenge. Like homeless people, not all home builders are created =
equal.=20
However, home builders =97 those with hundreds and thousands of acres =
=97 who=20
receive benefit of local, state and federal revenues for roads and=20
infrastructure should be looked at as a source of land to accommodate =
affordable=20
housing.=20
<P>Many an animal rescue volunteer has been warned or consoled, "You =
can't save=20
them all."=20
<P>As a community, maybe we can't provide all of the affordable housing =
units=20
that we need this year. However, we can set a goal to decrease by 25 =
percent the=20
number on the waiting list next year and by 50 percent the following =
year.=20
<P>Perhaps Tallahassee can sponsor and showcase an international design=20
competition for green, energy-efficient and affordable housing. Let's =
face it.=20
If we build and create affordable housing for people living on $600 to =
$1,000=20
per month, they still will be unable to afford the $400 utility bill =
that some=20
poor Tallahassee residents pay.=20
<P>Perhaps we can explore safe and healthy ways to bring some of the =
people on=20
waiting lists for affordable housing into established households so that =
they=20
can benefit from financial, nutritional, legal, medical and social =
mentoring.=20
<P>Some states and communities train prospective foster parents to =
prepare for=20
challenges they may face with children in their care. Maybe other people =
like=20
myself would be willing to bring an individual or family into their =
homes if a=20
network of assistance existed. These services would include community =
and social=20
resources such as criminal background checks, reference and drug =
screenings, and=20
a carefully guided matching system (similar to practices used to place =
foster=20
children).=20
<P>My efforts to assist the couple were modeled after those of a =
Tallahassee=20
real-estate agent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when some =
survivors=20
ended up in area shelters. The agent took recovery into her own hands. =
She=20
removed one of her properties from the market, drove to the rescue =
shelter, and=20
placed one of the hurricane survivor families into her dwelling. She =
called upon=20
her extensive social and business network to provide food, funds, and=20
furnishings to assist the family.=20
<P>My homeward-bound couple has pursued assistance from a variety of =
church,=20
community service, legal, medical and governmental agencies. In =
addition, we=20
have called upon my personal network of friends, acquaintances and =
neighbors to=20
assist in efforts to get this couple back on their feet. Many have =
donated time,=20
talent, resources and professional services.=20
<P>Yes. It is important to provide affordable housing. An equally =
important=20
challenge is to help people rebuild their lives. =
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