This broadcast of CoastLine originally aired on August 20, 2014.
Ending Chronic Homelessness in ten years: it’s a commitment that the City of Wilmington, three local county governments, service providers, and the United Way made six years ago. Slightly past the halfway point, the number of chronically homeless people in the region is down by more than half.
Audacious is the word Katrina Knight uses to describe her first reaction to the notion that ending chronic homelessness was possible.
"It sounded almost crazy, and I think all the air just got sucked out of this very large room of providers from all around the country because, honestly, it took some processing. We didn’t know what they were saying exactly."
What they were saying, Knight later learned, is that getting people out of shelters and into permanent housing—before requiring a laundry list of goals to be met, is the most cost-effective and pragmatic solution to the problem. Knight runs the Good Shepherd Center – a local nonprofit serving people in need.
Dan Ferrell is Strategic Director of the 10 year plan to End Chronic Homelessness. He says even with demonstrable results, it’s sometimes hard for concerned members of the public to understand why building more shelters isn’t the answer.
"Sheltering is not ending homelessness any more than bologna sandwiches, donuts, warm socks, or dry blankets. The only antidote for homelessness is housing. With the chronic homelessness, we’ve got a formula in place that we think works quite well."