“Groundhog’s Day” used to just mean the fun, iconic event in rural Punxautawney where a phenomenal ground hog emerged from its burrow and, depending on whether it was cloudy or clear, would accurately predict either an early spring or 6 more weeks of winter. But ever since the famous Bill Murray movie by the same name, Groundhog’s Day is now short-hand for the same things happening over and over again for no good reason.
Sometimes fighting for homeless people, and better public policy, can seem like that. Four months ago Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts testified to New York City Council about it.
“We know what works,” he said, “The cynical notion that it’s too expensive to address homelessness is just as wrong financially as it is morally. The most expensive, least effective and most inhumane method of handling the problem is what we are doing now: not dealing with long-run policies of rent supports, supportive housing and services to avoid homelessness.”
But if we know what would work better (because it has actually worked better), and if the long range costs of doing what’s best for people experiencing homelessness is also less expensive than continuing to do what isn’t working, why don’t we just do what works? Issues about homelessness really need to be part of New York City’s civic discussion this year, or it’ll still seem like Groundhog’s Day (the Bill Murray kind, not the weather predicting furry animal kind) next year February, all over again.
-Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy at Care for the Homeless