I hope you remember this recent post: "Catherine Died Sleeping Outside Last Night". Sadly, when you work with homeless people, death on the streets is far too common. Catherine's death really messed me up because she was a friend, and because her death could have been avoided.
Last month I wrote a post: "We Can End Homelessness: This Video Is Proof" that showcases the Housing First model, which is proven to save lives and taxpayer money. Catherine was actually in housing for a short time, but the homeless services agency that housed her placed Catherine in a building that wasn't a fit. She ended up back in a temporary shelter that eventually moved Catherine to a winter shelter program, fully knowing she would be back out on the streets when the program closes.
With new models like housing first, there is a lot of pressure on homeless agencies to be "one of the cool kids." Rarely will you hear an agency be candid about the people they placed into housing and that housing failed. The main reason for failure is agencies, who really do not have the resources to support a chronic homeless person, place people into wrong housing or are not able to support the homeless person's needs. Personally, I don't think we should count a successful housing placement until after a person has been in housing for a year or two.
Back in 2010, the @home campaign had their camera crew with me when we picked up Catherine to help her run errands. Last week I asked the directors to look for the footage. They sent me back an email shocked at how much Catherine had changed in such a short time. This short video is some of that footage of Catherine in 2010 and some footage of the interview with her last month only weeks before she died.