Homeless is a problem in our communities. Many elected leaders struggle with proper interventions to deal with this social problem and just throwing money at it is not the solution. I have a comprehensive, detailed and financially feasible plan to combat this problem in our community.
My brother-in-law who struggles with Mental Health and Homelessness, first tuned me into the complexity of this issue. He has lived with our family for many years as we attempt to support him in navigating a system riddled with barriers. Because of this, I quickly saw both the gaps and needs for this population. Washington County continues to do a fabulous job addressing this difficult issue. Most data indicates that PSH (permanent supportive housing) and Rental Assistance (for those who are cyclically homeless) are the best supportive and preventative measures to move people out of homelessness or assist those at risk of homelessness, to a more stable path. I would support nominal funding increases from current funding levels in these areas through increased financial support for our non-profit providers of these services. Washington County and many local non-profits continue to work at this difficult problem from a variety of angles as seen by decreases in these numbers in the last few years. We need to continue this success.
However, it should also be noted that the concerns of neighborhoods and businesses need to be both heard and addressed by our elected officials, and they are often not. We need to support the establishment of the first 24/7 homeless shelter so the county can initiate a stronger ordinance to better hold those individuals who violate the law and impact the livability, public health and safety of our community, more accountable.