“How Cities Got Serious About Homelessness in 2016” from VICE

Summary and Reflections:

It would seem there is no better time than now to acknowledge the important role that landscape plays in the lives of urban environments, especially in the lives of those without shelter. 2016, witnessed a profound step in public acceptance of the issue of homelessness and the unmistakable effect it is having on American cities. In November, voters in L.A., San Francisco, and Portland approved measures to raise millions of dollars for affordable and permanent housing (Swann, 2016) . This represents a radical change in the fight against homelessness, which for decades has been dealt with through shortsighted shelter and voucher programs that lead to a cycle of dependence and fail to address the fundamental issue of homelessness: shelter. In L.A., a 1.2 billion dollar bond, which takes a cut from property taxes, will construct 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing with supportive facilities over the next decade (Swann, 2016). L.A., recently was reported having the highest number of chronically homeless for the second year in a row. Seattle also experienced a rise in homelessness and has recently adopted a new plan to end homelessness called Pathways, which is rooted in housing first efforts. As the homeless epidemic becomes more unavoidable and the public begins to rally behind programs to alleviate the issue, it is worth contemplating the role that landscape will play in the reclamation and healing of the current and formerly homeless. If the housing first methodology is adopted in full force on the West Coast, how can the landscape serve to link these housing structures in such a way that encourages the formerly homeless into fulfilling lives. We know that homeless persons interact with the landscape in a profoundly more intimate way than most other people, because it is currently or has been their home for some period of time. An integral part of healing these lives will be in addressing the landscapes these people once occupied.


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