How can we help create more community support for solutions to homelessness in their own neighborhoods?
Stories of people with lived experience are one of our most powerful tools.
- Get the voices of those with lived experience out in the community—stories of the actual pathways to homelessness.
- Get people to engage with the actual realities of homelessness as a way to build empathy and support.
- The stereotyped assumptions continue to limit willingness to engage in providing real options.
- Listen to where the unhoused are and how they got there. What is their next need? Who do they have to rely on for support? Family and extended family support?
- Must do the slow, slogging work of bias-awareness and bias-breaking, of sharing how the houseless feel and how we are all a part of the reasons and the solution.
- We prioritized educationaHow to l events in neighborhoods, using role plays and the voices/presence of people with lived experience.
Build on common experiences of rising housing costs and economic vulnerability.
- What Jay said about “capitalism not working” for those on the streets is also true for the broader community.
- Must also include the history of homelessness in Tacoma, for example, Skid Row is a Tacoma phrase, and in dealing with homelessness today we are repeating much of what was done in the 1990's.
Meet communities “where they’re at” and work to build understanding and engagement.
- Proximity builds empathy. Build small sanctioned camps of 25-35 people, with amenities, and involve the communities where they are.
- Observe to see where the disconnects and gaps are to where the engaged community members can be of greatest service.
- We ask community members to not “other” unhoused and yet sometimes we other those who have concerns about encampments. “We have to all be ‘us.’”
- Need to approach people in neighborhoods as potential allies.
- Be humble and non-judgmental. Work to counter damaging stereotypes and focus on the issues people can relate to.
- It’s all about partnerships, leveraging resources of community and being aware of weaknesses and strengths so these can balance each other out.
- Must be radically welcoming and build trust. This is the way to reach those unhoused, as it is the way to reach each and every one of us.
Creative Ideas and gaps to fill:
- We discussed implementing a farmers’ market of sorts to engage both the community as well as the client. This could be a way to give the families a source of pride as well as allow the community to be a significant part of the tiny home/homeless living community.
- We need a mindset shift regarding funding by what is truly needed and what is being offered. Legislative efforts move so slowly that the real needs go unmet.
- This crisis has been coming for decades. Asking neighborhoods to suddenly adapt to "hosting" campsites should not be necessary because there we've had (as a city and as a county) plenty of notice, but the crisis is here and we need safe lots and urban campgrounds.
- Do the vital and needed work to bring all the cities of Pierce County into the work of solving homelessness, eg, being a part of the Comprehensive Plan. In many areas of Pierce County, "Pierce County' is seen as Tacoma.
- An example of underservice is disabled and blind unhoused people being denied shelter because they aren’t independent. This is a real need that needs to be addressed like yesterday.
- Zoning! and where housing can be placed. Need advocacy for zoning changes in all Pierce County.
- Be proactive. County and city can respond automatically when a certain # of unhoused neighbors are present instead of waiting for neighbors to beg for or demand services such as garbage collection, hygiene facilities, other health and safety support, outreach workers.
- Offer unhoused people employment cleaning up areas.
- Instead of enforcing codes that don't allow camping, find a way to offer financial incentives for property owners who will allow people to camp on their property (even when this is just for 1-2 tents/cars).
- People have right to live in the community in which they became homeless.