There is a lot of talk about the homeless crisis in America. I don’t have all of the answers but I DO have some ideas.
Let’s begin by talking about what Homelessness is, sort of defining what we are trying to address.
There are varying ideas of who the homeless are and how to handle “them”. You would think “the homeless are those without a home” but what is a home? Is it a sticks-and-brick affair only? I know many people who will tell you that their vehicle (van, car, bus, truck or motorcycle) is their “home” or the tent they have with them to put up each night is their home. What is the saying, “Home is where you hang your hat”? Then bring in all of the full time RVers and their respective homes. Many of these I mention in this paragraph will never say they are homeless, in fact they will vigorously disagree with that. They are very happy in their “homes” and in their chosen way of living.
Then we have the “down and out” sort of homeless.The DaO’s are the ones who, for whatever reason, have only the option of living on the streets or in the surrounding forests, under bridges or wherever they can find to sleep for the night and put their meager belongings (changes of clothing, medicine, etc). Many of these unfortunate persons are struggling with drug addictions, alcoholism or mental and/or medical issues. Others are forced into these situations because of a loss of income, family or other reasons including legal issues. The people in this paragraph are the ones who I feel like could be helped by giving them back their dignity.
How do we do that? I’m glad you asked. I believe that if we can construct and maintain a place I will call a “Temporary Living Center” or Village it will help with the homeless situation across America and possibly beyond. I propose this as a place which could be described as a transitional point for persons to acclimate themselves before returning to a “normal” life. It is not intended as a permanent, long term answer. I see it as a peaceful, safe and relaxing space full of opportunities for them to grow mentally and physically. Just by giving them safety it can ease their mind out of “frantic” mode and into a more creative place where they can become productive members of society once again. Imagine yourself in their places right now: On the street worrying about theft, abuse or other personal issues. Trying to find a bathroom and food to eat all the while protecting yourself and what’s yours. Maybe one answer to one part of the problem is to just throw a million compost toilets at them and hope they maintain them correctly.
I see this village as a wonderful solution or a sort of jumping board from the streets to main stream society. I think it is necessary for them in so many ways.
Imagine if we were to add a workshop for wood and metal training as well as a place for crafting. Just imagine what those newly unfrantic minds could create!
An Overview of what the village would look like and then a detailed discussion to follow:
I see a transitional village as a very large piece of land surrounded by a fence (to keep the inhabitants safe from Coyotes, Foxes, Wolves, Javelinas, wild donkeys and horses as well as other critters of the night). Inside this fence would be many spaces with varying sizes where there is a 10×10 cement building on each lot which will serve as a shower, commode, sink, and charging station (Solar energy via a solar panel on the roof) and electronic storage area (for the solar system). The rest of the space would be for personal use. As a revision, I believe the shower should be a small extension out the back of the 10×10 accessible by a doorway to keep mold and other humidity issues out of the main area.
I challenge you to put up a 10 x 10 canopy and just imagine a cot in one corner, a 2.5 x 6 countertop on the opposite wall with a sink and storage area. At the foot of the bed would be a 2.5 x 3 area with multiple shelves (probably built into the structure with cement blocks and a door on it). On the far wall from the entry is an area they put a work table/desk and chair and beside that would be the entrance to the outside shower which is 2 x 6. beside the sink area and shower would be the restroom. the last wall would be the entrance door and then open area for moving around in. Outside you could put a picnic table or built in bench on each lot. The solar storage which includes 2 lithium batteries, 1 inverter which is wired to several outlets in the room and the solar controller. This area would only have access from the outside via a vented and locked doorlet accessed for maintenance. Around the top of the structure walls could be separated opaque glass squares that let light in during the day and you could also put those in the bathroom area and/or down a wall in the main area. Look at the diagram above for what I “see”:
I further see a complete common kitchen and eating area where meals are prepared in a cafeteria type style for everyone to enjoy and many outdoor picnic tables. This area could also house a small library and a board game area. It would be great to have this area with lots of small trees and a nice walking path and personal space areas. this could also be a family visiting area if a larger space is needed. In warmer climes this could be an open type area whereby the walls are 3 ft high and then the rest is a screened in room with a palapa style roof. This is very Mexican traditional.
This village would also need to have a medical room that perhaps has covey spaces for each lot where medicines can be housed safely and given out as required to those who need them. This would cut down on overdoses or theft or illegal distribution. An onsite staff Nurse would be in attendance or available.
The village would not be complete without a full garden area where the habitants can help grow their own food and enjoy the exercise and pride in their accomplishments. Over production could relate to income via a vegetable stand outside.
It would also be great to have an animal husbandry area where their are goats for goat milk, cows for cow milk, chickens for eggs and other great animals to help keep our village organic and well fed. I think the population may enjoy the interaction as well. Imagine this: Grab a cup of coffee, walk to the Cow holding area and get a fresh shot of milk in your cup!! I have actually done this before and I LOVE it!
I think a small commissary onsite would be beneficial and purchases would be based on a per person allotment delegated by approved funds through our funding options and managed by the Village. This would allow the villagers to get needed personal items like Soap, toilet paper, personal hygiene items, tooth paste and tooth brushes, etc.
Admittance to this private village would be based upon need. Each person would need to be personally approved by the approval committee and would sign an agreement to the terms of living in this village. That may include a clause that no drugs or alcohol are allowed under any circumstances and if found that person would be immediately evicted indefinitely. The approved person would then receive a Village issued identification card with their picture on it. This is the card that they would keep on themselves at all times.
Maybe you want to know about where the water will come from and how will the waste water be handled. My vision is of a main well that is attached to a tall water tower. From the water tower lines are run to each and every lot where an on-demand hot water heater is used for the sink and shower area. The wastewater is easy. My son is in the Air Force and he has been tasked many times with setting up new encampments with wastewater systems. One idea of this is to use an underground container where up to 3 lots can be emptied into it for the black water and it is leached out or pumped out regularly. The grey water could be tubed to the garden area for treatment and recycling.
So, you say, this all sounds very grand but how would it pay for itself? Again, I’m glad you asked! By helping cities, counties and states with their homeless they could be charged a per person fee for the ongoing care of the individuals helped. The Federal Government also has grants, etc. to help fund this type of establishment. Private funds would be needed as well and fundraising events could be held. This would be a nonprofit establishment.
To get something like this started, it would take a considerable amount of investment money and there is a lot of land available in certain tax-free zones. It CAN be done and I think it should be done. What do you think? Email me: Boondocker16 @gmail.com
Let’s help give people back their dignity!