I'm back in town a little earlier than anticipated so I went down to SafeHouse for the evening. The group there tonight was really good! People enjoyed the food and the group spent a lot of time outside talking to everyone. They come down to serve food regularly so they know a lot of the men and women there.
One of the conversations I had today was about housing for people who are homeless. One gentleman was telling me that he was going to an organization to do a psychological evaluation, and if he was given a psychiatric diagnosis the organization would give him a place to live based on his income. I asked why he needed to have a mental illness to get housing and his response was that if you wanted a decent place to live where someone wasn't telling you what to do all day long, in Atlanta, this is one of the few options. In this program you have to attend some kind of treatment, but it's based on your schedule/availability.
Some of the housing that is specifically for people who are homeless - transitional housing - has a lot of structure and rules put in place, some of which is needed. But the way this gentleman explained it was that the lack of rules and responsibility is what reinforces some people to stay on the streets. So going into a program that has rules for everything is usually a turn off.
He shared some great insight into the housing problem in Atlanta, and definitely made me more aware of the issues. We need to have a better system in place, but I don't know what that would be yet...