In every city across the country there exists a homeless population, people who find themselves in a state of destitution for a number of reasons. Loss of jobs, mental illness, and addiction are the most common roads to homelessness. In San Francisco, a program is using a new approach aimed at providing shelter to homeless men and women, connecting them with substance abuse treatment and counseling.
Formerly an abandoned school at 16th and Mission Street, The Navigation Center is a pilot program, expected to last 18 months, which uses a novel approach with the end goal of providing housing or substance abuse treatment or rehab within 10 days, CBS reports. Historically, many homeless people were not interested in similar programs and shelters because the rules were inhibiting.
Policies that separated the homeless from their loved ones or pets often deter many in need of shelter. Bevan Dufty, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Opportunity Partnership and Engagement, said that the Navigation Center is designed particularly for people deterred by shelter policies, according to the article.
“There isn’t always a lot of storage, people can’t keep their pets with them, a male and female couple can’t stay together.”
“In creating the Navigation Center, we listened to what people said they wanted and needed to move off the streets — a place where they could bring their dogs and possessions, where they could stay with their partner, with their friends,” said Dufty.
The program aims to serve 200 people a month over the 18 month pilot period. The Navigation Center will have counselors on-site around the clock to address substance abuse and psychological issues. The counselors will be able to refer individuals into appropriate treatment programs.
As many cities around the country are criminalizing homelessness, this new program aims to give people another chance.