The Norman Transcript

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March 7, 2014

One Vision One Voice seeks to end homelessness by providing homes first, services second

(Continued)

NORMAN —

In the past, most service plans required people to do good before they qualified for homes. Now, the agencies of One Vision One Voice will work to put people into apartments or other long-term housing, then help them with other needed services, such as mental health or drug and alcohol counseling.

“We would be saving money as a community,” Doshier said.

It’s a model that’s working in other cities.

City Grants Planner Lisa Krieg serves on Norman’s End Chronic Homelessness Oversight Committee and is working with One Vision One Voice as the city seeks solutions and funding. On Thursday, Krieg presented videos on the homeless situation to ECHO and talked about the shift in methodology for dealing with the problem.

Housing and Urban Development also has shifted its focus. That’s part of the reason why East Main Place, a transitional living facility, is closing its doors.

The new model is to assess people who are homeless and assign a priority level — like doing triage and treating those who are the most sick or injured first.

Krieg said the new model is an attempt to provide “the appropriate level of services to the appropriate client.”

Right now, getting help is like the lottery system. It’s basically first come, first served. The new model would help those who are the most vulnerable first, based on a survey and ranking system.

It’s a model being used by the 100,000 Homes Campaign, and it’s making a difference in cities like Nashville, Tenn., which was featured in a “60 Minutes” episode.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign website, 100k-homes.org, is full of success stories and information about the change in approach to homelessness.

“For many people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, physical health challenges and drug or alcohol addictions, housing is the first step on their road to recovery,” the website says. “Other aspects of recovery — a medication regimen, substance abuse treatment and employment, for example — are a lot easier to take on when someone can sleep in a warm bed instead of a public park or shelter.”

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