Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts brought more than 800 delegates to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council Conference in Washington, D.C., to their feet with a declaration that “Homelessness is evil, and we must end it.” Watts, in the conference’s keynote address, said, “we have to stop accepting the unacceptable, tolerating the intolerable, and end the evil of homelessness.”
“It was public policies that created modern day homelessness,” Watts said, “and we can end homelessness with better public and social policies.” Watts noted that “modern day homelessness” is only about 35 years old, and tracks with federal cutbacks in spending on affordable housing for very-low-income tenants and cutbacks to human service and safety net programs.
Watts spoke about asking college classes what they thought the causes of homelessness were, and getting answers including individuals became homelessness because they had mental problems, significant health problem, had a substance abuse problem, lost their job, didn't develop adequate job skills or had a criminal record. Watts explained that all those causes were right, but that instead or just looking at them from the individual point of view we should also view them from a societal perspective.
Looked at that way the causes might be thought of as society not having developed an adequate mental health or medical health system, or substance abuse treatment system, or enough affordable housing, or jobs or an adequate education and workforce training system.” Thought of that way, we can optimistically fight homelessness and realize how important and cost effective providing adequate resources are.