Unsheltered Perspectives – A report on the unsheltered homeless in Phoenix

A new report on the unsheltered homeless population of Phoenix, AZ, came out this week and one of the most significant things they found was that they need to listen to the real stories of the people on the streets to combat the problem with real solutions.

The opening paragraph says:

“Some homeless people don’t want to be helped.
They would rather sleep outside than in a
shelter.”

These statements are frequently used to describe
people experiencing homelessness. Many
individuals labeled “service resistant” are
perceived to be sleeping outside because they
want to. We were interested in learning more
about the people sleeping on the streets (i.e. the
“unsheltered” population). Why do they appear to
be resistant to available services? Do they
encounter barriers to sleeping in shelters and
accessing other services? Rather than imposing our
own logic on this population, we interviewed 100
people who are sleeping in Phoenix parks, alleys,
lots and streets. We hoped that listening to people
who are unsheltered would provide us with a
greater understanding of how they could be
sheltered in a way that more effectively benefits
them and our community.

This is the mission of the NEWS portion of the Street Paper. We hope to highlight real stories that are submitted directly from the unsheltered, homeless people of the greater Phoenix Area. Once the website is up and running as we plan they will be able to directly submit blog posts to their own profile and anyone can follow their stories. This report couldn’t have come at a better time. Look at the quotes I pulled from the first 2 pages of the report:

“We often get lost in the numbers, and we forget that behind every data point is a real live person with a story,” said Mike Shore, head of low-income housing provider Hom Inc. “Hearing from people who are living the experience themselves is so valuable.”

He said decision-makers need to listen to the real stories of people like him as well as the staff members who serve the homeless.

The unsheltered homeless “problem” will likely
continue as long as shelters remain warehouses of
people rather than reasonably dignified places to
rest safely. By taking the time to listen to the lived
experiences of people sleeping outside, we learned
that the gaps in our homeless services system have
less to do with programs or policies and more to do
with gaps in empathy. This research found that
people sleeping outside are resilient and seeking
housing; we just need the resolve as a community
to see things through their eyes and to shelter
them with dignity.

unsheltered perspectives report 2019 Ash Uss

You can download the Unsheltered Perspectives report-pdf for free right HERE. Just click on the download icon

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