Joe Weisbord joined Fannie Mae at the national office about six months ago. His official title is "Senior Policy Analyst Homelessness Initiatives."
Joe has spent his career finding ways to assist people who need housing.
He was in Dallas yesterday for a series of meetings. I spent about four hours with him. I learned a lot about a tragic, continuing problem facing our nation and my hometown.
During the course of any year over the past decade, approximately 3 million Americans experienced homelessness. For around a quarter million people, homelessness is a chronic condition.
Interestingly, less than 10% of the homeless consume almost half of the homeless assistance resources that are available to communities like Dallas.
Shelters do not provide a solution to the problem.
Solid research tells us that doing nothing to address the issue of homelessness is actually more expensive than developing and implementing effective responses to the problem.
National studies reveal that supportive housing solutions--i.e. providing stable, permanent housing with supportive services for tenants--saves money, lots of money.
For example, studies conducted by the Corporation for Supportive Housing have shown that well-managed supportive housing reduces emergency room visits by as much as 57%; emergency detox services by 85% (I really get this stat--put me on the street with no resources and in about a month I would need detox in the worst way!); and incarceration by 50%.
The same research indicates that by providing stable housing options for people, earned income rises by a full 50%, employment grows in this population by 40% and well over 80% remain in the housing for at least one year!
A current national goal, agreed upon by the President, our Governors and Mayors from across the nation (to date over 180 states and localities have signed on), is to end chronic homelessness in 10 years. One benchmark of success is the plan to develop 150,000 new units of supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.
Joe Weisbord came to Dallas to share how it is that Fannie Mae plans to pitch in to help the nation achieve the goal through its American Dream Commitment.
Thank God for Fannie Mae!
Here at Central Dallas Ministries, we have a single room occupancy apartment project on the drawing boards. We hope to develop between 150 and 200 "studio" apartments that are high-quality, beautiful and affordable for our fellow citizens and neighbors who need places to call home.
Anyone who would like to help us is more than welcome!
We think we have it figured out. After all, it is not really rocket science.
What people without homes need most is, well, homes.