The System is Broken
Before the Great Depression, communities took pride in supporting those who faced poverty, suffered mental illness, and were hurting. Today, we have plenty of resources available, but the current system has placed roadblocks that present challenges to providing genuine care to those who seek help.
We see a trend with homelessness. According to Prosperity Now, 40% of Pennsylvanians are ONE PAYCHECK AWAY from facing homelessness. 59% of Americans are ONE PAYCHECK AWAY from becoming homeless. Of the 40% in Pennsylvania, 350 Individuals and families are deemed homeless in the Wyoming Valley region. The 350 who live in poverty face challenges every day to survive. This fight-or-flight mentality causes poor decisions that persuade the publics’ perception of these individuals. Those who face homelessness are labeled as “drug users”, “animals”, and “dirty”, along with other derogatory characteristics. Those labels may hold in some cases, but the facts that led to these poor decisions are not considered.
Homelessness is not the result of one individual choice, but rather the failure of a system driving our modern society. Individuals who face homelessness have a difficult time navigating the social service system. When we see an issue, we are good as a society to throw money at the problem with no real solution. The proper resources are not provided to the agencies whose job is to serve and support the vulnerable population. Some systematic issues are as follows:
- Continuing struggles in housing with limited affordable units and rising rents. Those related to housing factors, including eviction and vulnerability, due to living in crowded or unaffordable housing.
- Income-related issues including low income, unemployment, precarious employment, and limited income opportunities, due to lack of education and skills
- Lack of supports and services, including those geared towards addressing such problems as ill-health, mental illness, substance abuse, and social isolation from family and friends.
- Finally, we expect to pull the homeless into a shelter and then place them right into an apartment. This is considered a ‘win’ in the eyes of the pubic but is genuinely a loss to the individual. The system lacks the follow-up, the support, and the teaching of life skills to maintain stability.
Keystone Mission is committed to working on addressing the current system that is broken. Providing outreach, like our Agape Team, which sends out our Life Coaches to help navigate that system of social services is one way we address this. Life Coaches can connect the homeless to the right resources to help them with their specific needs. The next step for Keystone Mission is to provide emergency shelter that offers a place to sleep, food in their belly, and a shower to keep clean. Rest and restoration stop the ‘fight or flight’ system they were living and helps them make rational decisions. Finally, move them into transitional housing center that transforms their lives, by learning those skills they need to survive. Through job training, budgeting, learning personal hygiene skills, and connection to resources in the community, the individual is transformed at the pace they set. Finally, we do this with the secret ingredient, LOVE. With love, for a person who has never had that experience, a transformation sparks in their life which was not seen before.
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