Part 2: Finding Solutions For The Homeless in America
(This is a two-part story. Click here to read Part 1.)
HOUSING FOR ALL
At an NAR symposium in 2016, homelessness was identified as a serious issue.
REALTORS® from Hawaii talked about how working men were living in tents on the beaches of Maui because they couldn’t afford to live where they worked. REALTORS® from California and New York identified similar problems in their area where the workforce couldn’t afford to live where they were working.
It was apparent there was a problem, now what was needed was a solution.
But, before a solution could be authored, a history of why this was happening needed to be understood.
“The important thing is that we, as a community of Realtors, are thinking about those that are less fortunate and make sure they can progress and move forward,” said Colin Johnson, president-elect of the District of Columbia Association of REALTORS® “A shelter is a basic necessity that is inherent in all of us.”
Homelessness has been a part of the American society as long as America has existed. Whether it was single men being shipped here in the 18th century to do labor, or it was veterans of the civil war, or the result of the Great Depression, homelessness has always had a reason for its unfortunate boom.
In the 1960s, it was related to the slack of affordable single room occupancy (SRO) residences. In the 1970s, it was related to the deinstitutionalization and defunding of many psychiatric hospitals. In the 1980s it was related to the changes in welfare. In the 2000s we had the great recession and the lack of affordable housing.
So, although homelessness has sustained for different reasons it’s still apparent that policy changes are needed.
100 IDEAS TO BELIEVE IN
Meadows and her team in Florida wrote a book, outlining how REALTORS® can make an immediate impact and help push for the policy changes necessary to assure there is housing for everyone, including the homeless.
The book was originally published in 2014, but its suggestions, ideas and motivations are all still relevant today.
The book suggests lending compassionate support to the homeless, either on an individual level or through volunteering time to help an organization that works with the homeless – perhaps on a financial management level, or assisting legal aid with cleaning up criminal records to help a homeless person get a job.
REALTORS® are also encouraged to focus on education and advocacy and develop collaborative partnerships with organizations who are always looking to assist the homeless, especially those who are trying to find them affordable housing options.
Most importantly though, is the need to increase the housing supply and find sustainable solutions. More housing options makes for greater certainty that there is housing for all.
“Homelessness impacts our economy, our communities and our neighborhoods and we need to be sure we do all that we can to resolve it.”
“Mark Twain wrote that the two most important days of our life are the day we are born and the day we find out why,” Meadows said. “To me, it’s to be an advocate for those who don’t think they have a voice in society and to pull that voice out of them. Make them bold and empowered. There are so many people who are reactive and no proactive. Homelessness impacts our economy, our communities and our neighborhoods and we need to be sure we do all that we can to resolve it.”
AND THE WAITER?
Meadows never saw him or heard from him again. A decade later she has no idea where he is, if he’s working, if he’s still homeless, or even if he’s still in Florida.
But there’s one thing she knows for sure… he was right. He did become somebody.
“I don’t know if I will ever see him again, but he created this movement in the state of Florida and subsequently, with 1.2 million members in NAR, within our country,” she said.
“He doesn’t even know what he did but it’s because of him that we’ve actually be able to give the homeless a face. We see them and now we’re doing something about it.”