By Pamela Perez, San Clemente
In response to Melina Stone Schoenwald’s letter in the Oct. 6-12 edition of the San Clemente Times: Yes! These are distinct homeless groups. People and families who are trying to live a normal life can be helped rapidly without living in a shelter. A shelter is important during an unexpected crisis—it should not be a solution to homelessness. The Rapid Re-Housing Program (RRHP) and Continuum of Care (CoC) Program/HUD are prerequisites to the Section 8 Voucher Rental Assistance Program. The problem is that this process does not happen rapidly and/or the middlemen, such as a “shelter,” will get the RRHP and CoC grant money (and donations) instead of it going to the homeless and homeless families directly. The shelter programs that do this will usually say that the homeless people they help need “services.” So, they keep their “clients” for six months, hence a six-month program, and then pretty much expect them to figure out their situation themselves. Their “clients” are not told that they can get into an apartment rapidly and receive “services” while their children have a steady home and can be in their home school. The shelter program will say that they gave their “clients” a place to stay for a while until they figure out where to go next. I believe the RRHP and CoC and then HUD Section 8 programs would move along more rapidly if these programs did not have homeless “shelters” to fall back on. The homeless people who are not in special need, like the “chronic vagrants,” should be moved through the HUD homeless system elegantly, appropriately and rapidly, which would end homeless, as the RRHP was intended.