The Gifford Newsletter
Spring 2021 | The Hunt for Affordable Housing
How do we treat someone who cannot afford a home? When I think about homelessness and housing policies, I like to start the process with this question. No matter what your politics are, we all have to recognize the reality that many people simply do not have enough money to pay for an apartment, let alone buy and maintain a house.
Over the past year they have fought their way through unimaginable challenges: the pandemic took away their volunteer base leading to staff having to work 24-hour days in some cases. Nearly all of their systems and operations had to be reimagined to accommodate social distancing. Now that the darkest days of the pandemic appear to be in the past, Rescue Mission staff are bracing for another challenge: providing dignified and supportive housing access to their participants.
What does it fundamentally mean to provide someone with housing? For Andrew Lunetta, it comes down to much more than just a roof and a bed. Effective housing solutions give the person a place they can feel safe, make their own, and have dignity, Lunetta argues. This holistic approach to combat homelessness forms the philosophy behind his nonprofit organization A Tiny Home for Good which was founded in 2015.
Jenni Gratien wants to change the image you have of homeless people. “The biggest misconception is that when someone talks about a homeless person, they have that vision in their head of someone that is really dirty and has ripped clothes and is walking around with a grocery cart full of their belongings,” she says. “For the most part that is not what a homeless person looks like.” Gratien argues that this limited view of homelessness misrepresents the situation and stigmatizes people who are facing housing insecurity.
In an effort to provide a pathway to better care and a safer environment, Menorah Park has built a special shelter in their facility designed to provide short term respite to seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Now that construction has finished and COVID cases are on the decline, Menorah Park is preparing to open the doors to what will be the first-of-its-kind dementia shelter in Syracuse.
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