Solving Extreme Poverty

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PDF of all slides in the presentation:

Presentation Text:

Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA

This presentation describes a potential solution from a big picture perspective. These ideas are being presented as a starting point for discussions on poverty and homelessness. I am inviting fellow poverty survivors – people with lived experience surviving poverty, particularly homelessness – to participate in this discussion. If you have never experience poverty directly, your support is appreciated but please be respectful and allow people with lived experience take the lead in this conversation.

Big Picture, Big Steps

Three (3) different plans with overlapping goals implemented simultaneously. This presentation covers the objectives of all three plans and then looks at the five-year plan in more detail.

5-Year Plan

The 5-year plan.

The objective is to meet the immediate needs of people currently surviving extreme poverty or homelessness, those in danger of slipping into poverty and people escaping catastrophic events, 

To this end, the 5-year plan focuses on providing emergency support to those surviving poverty, universal support to everyone and the establishment of emergency facilities and basic infrastructure to support providing for a large population a catastrophic event.

50-Year Plan

The 50-year plan.

The objective is to address the root causes of social inequality, financial inequality, global warming and environmental destruction.

This requires digging deep into complicated issues like systemic racism, global warming, environmental destruction and crumbling infrastructure.

500-Year Plan

The objective is to address long-term problems through multigenerational planning.

The 500-year plan lays the groundwork for making changes while fostering a culture of identifying and evaluating potential risks and consequences across many generations.

5 Year Plan

Now for a more detailed look at the five-year plan.

On its own, this is an ambitious band-aid for out-of-control homelessness and poverty in the United States, designed to keeps people alive while facilitating a transition into the 50-year plan.

Emergency Support

Emergency support is a lifeboat, not a final destination.  It consists of an expansion of both the resources available and the number of people eligible, while simplifying the process for accessing necessary resources.

Government Benefits

Food, housing, transportation and childcare make up the most basic benefits already available. They also address some of the most basic necessities.

Modifying the existing program is simple:

1) increase the amount of all resources made available to each person,

2) increase the annual income requirements to include the middle class,

3) simplify access – For example: automatically enrolling everyone whose tax returns indicate eligibility, and

4) Expand benefits to cover more key issues faced by people surviving poverty, such as student loan forgiveness and free legal assistance

Universal Support

As the title implies, these resources would be immediately available to everyone.

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Universal Basic Income or UBI checks providing a reliable monthly payment to everyone over a certain age, regardless of income, living status or participation in other government assistance programs. Cash in hand goes a long way towards establishing nationwide financial stability and ensuring the basic needs of the population are met.

Universal Health Care

Five (5) years of Universal health care, covering all aspects of mental and physical health care at no cost to the patient, including medical programs normally addressed outside of hospitals, like dental, eye and chiropractic care.

Universal Photo IDs

The universal ID would be designed to be entirely free of charge, reasonably easy to create, centrally managed and regularly updated. To that end, a new ID could be based on anything from standard identification documentation to information provided by the individual verbally or select biometric data types.

The objective is to get everyone into the official universal photo ID system, including people who already have other forms of government ID, thereby making it commonly available and useful.

This may require connecting it to a specific purpose, such as voter identification, a centralized medical records system, or the universal medical benefits program.

Emergency Facilities

Emergency facilities are distinctly different from existing resources available to people during a crisis. They are designed to provide refuge to a very large population of people, pets and property during anything from a personal emergency to a catastrophic event or a mass evacuation.

Facility Formats

The resources currently available have three (3) possible formats: 1) a cold site, 2) a warm site, and 3) a hot site.

Cold Site

A cold site takes time and effort to set up and may require additional supplies to get up and running. Examples include bomb shelters, remote summer cabins or an RV only used for vacations.

Warm Site

A warm site is used on a limited basis or has a primary purpose that makes it reasonably easy to modify quickly. Either way it is partially up and running and mostly operational. Examples include schools, community centers, churches and stadiums.

Hot Site

A hot site is fully functioning and continually operating. Examples include hospitals, hotels and homeless shelters. Unfortunately, currently operating hot sites are not equipped to handle a large-scale emergency.

Homeless shelters struggle to meet the needs of people surviving poverty on an average day.

Hospitals and hotels are neither designed nor equipped to handle a large population for an extended time.

Emergency Facilities are hot sites specifically designed to handle the worst-case-scenario by meeting the long-term needs of an extremely large population during a crisis – whether that crisis affects a single person or involves a mass-evacuation.

Basic Requirements

Emergency facilities provide a place to live, a place to die, the resources necessary to live, and the ability to access at least one facility from anywhere in any state in the country.

Handicap Accessible

They are 100% handicap accessible because an evacuation event requires fast and simple processes. Able bodied people can used handicapped accessible housing without modification or difficulty. The same cannot be said about people who are handicapped or injured being placed in standard non-accessible housing.

A facility that is 100% handicapped accessible can provide housing and basic resources to anyone at any time – without delay. Simple. Fast. Efficient.

Known Population

The facilities, supplies and the public transportation connecting them MUST be designed to meet the needs of 150% of the total known population of the entire state.

That number includes the housed, unhoused, and temporary residents.

Why 150%? First, it’s an emergency facility. During an evacuation, everyone is moved out of the danger zone and into a safe place no questions asked – there MUST NEVER be a moment when people are stopped and evaluated for access.

Second, if the entire population is evacuated to these facilities at the same time and the total population count is off by 10%-25% or more, then there’s still plenty of room for everyone, including emergency transfers from other facilities.

Emergency Transfer

Which brings us to Emergency transfers. These are pre-established plans for moving people to different emergency facilities when the local facility is compromised, destroyed or at capacity.

To illustrate, try to imagine the states of California, Oregon and Washington on a map. All three states share an ocean coastline and problems with regular natural disasters, such as earthquakes, wildfires, floods and drought.

In this fictitious scenario…California has three (3) emergency facilities, Oregon has one (1) and Washington State has two (2). A wildfire rips through Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a large portion of its population to the emergency facility. This works until the fire changes course and starts heading for the facility itself

Despite planning, prevention and firefighting efforts, the fire gets dangerously close, and the Oregon facility must be evacuated. Per the plans already in place, the entire displaced population is sent to emergency facilities in California and Washington State via specially designed public transportation, such as a high-speed rail.

When transfers arrive, they are immediately provided living arrangements and access to all resources. Housing and assistance continue for as long as each person or family needs.

When the Oregon facility re-opens, those who remain at the emergency transfer locations are given the option of being transferred back to Oregon. Transfers are always free of charge and, outside of an emergency evacuation, they are voluntary.


An emergency facility requires comprehensive medical resources. Because this is a continuously operating facility, those resources are available – free of charge – to anyone who needs them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Nursing Homes and Hospice Care

A mass evacuation event is going to generate serious injuries, some of them fatal and others requiring long-term care. Evacuations also include nursing home residents and hospice patients in other regions of the state. Therefore, the emergency facility must be prepared to handle the needs of these patients.

Homelessness among the elderly is becoming more and more common. Serious illness often causes financial ruin that leaves individuals and families at the mercy of the welfare system and homeless shelters. Therefore, facilities must be prepared to continuously accommodate the needs of people dealing with a family or personal crisis.


Catastrophic events do not adhere to a political calendar. Citizens evacuated to an emergency facility still have the right to vote in all elections – local and national. Voting options must, by necessity, be made available to all citizens residing at a facility for any length of time.


Basic communication resources include reliable high speed internet connections and universal cell phone towers designed to allow the entire population the ability to contact family and friends, or to remotely connect to work and school.

This facilitates communication between individuals, families and government agencies during a disaster. It also helps to encourage people to leave an area in anticipation of a known pending disaster, like a hurricane.

Education and More

Getting back to normal after a disaster takes time. Most likely, people forced to rely on an emergency facility will live there for several months or even years. Life continues.

Children must be educated, and college students need to finish school.

There are religious events and cultural holidays to observe.

Athletes and arm-chair warriors alike need to continue their training.

Opportunities to participate in both sports and the arts relieves stress, builds community and helps people continue living their lives. Which, in turn, helps people recover from a traumatic experience and get their lives back on track.

Legal System

Laws and policies governing emergency facilities must be consistent across the entire network to ensure that a flood of people traveling between facilities during an emergency transfer can complete the move as smoothly as possible. The fewer details people are trying to figure out during an emergency, the better.

Community and Culture

Many people will stay at a facility temporarily. Some will take a job and settle down permanently. There will be students who come seeking a free education and individuals who simply choose to remain long-term – these are all good things.

Anticipating the establishment of a permanent community and actively working to foster a culture that is conducive to the unique nature of life at an emergency facility will help ensure smooth operation over the long-term.

Big Picture, Big Steps

That’s the basic overview of the primary components of the five-year plan à Emergency support, universal support and emergency facilities.

Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA

Thank you for listening!

6 thoughts on “Solving Extreme Poverty

  1. What would you imagine these emergency living facilities to be? For example, in my homelessness, anything without a private room and private bathroom for me and my daughter to share and welcoming my 2 dogs and a cat was simply untenable in part for health reasons. Also, two of the three pets are therapy pets; the third is blind and disabled and would have to be put down if I couldn’t care for him. Would there be private spaces for families with pets? I think that would be a minimum requirement. We were fine in something like a hotel room where we could have the pets and a bit of privacy. We were very lucky we had a friend who loved us enough to give us her master suite (she had a son so that was the only way we could do it). It was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. I applaud your plan. How can I help you?

    • My thought is that they would be complete residences designed for people, pets and a certain amount of property. Not huge and very utilitarian in design but, yes, private rooms, bathroom, kitchen – all the basics. Ideally, people will be assigned a spot and they will stay here as long as they need. I also played with the idea of a parking-garage type building designed to hold tiny homes and RVs, but the end result would be the same, Ultimate, someone who knows something about designing building would have to look at the landscape and weather and design something that meets all requirements and works of the location.

      (Also, somehow there would also have to be a few housing units set aside for people who are seriously allergic to pets.)

      I’m not sure how to help. To seriously pursue this we’d need political will and financial backing. Not a cheap endeavor but, given the problems we are all facing with climate change, it would be a long-term infrastructure investment. So, maybe politicians would get on board..???…maybe???

  2. No person in this United States should be homeless. There are abandoned buildings everywhere, just sitting in ruins. This country has enough money to supply tiny homes to families across the country. It is the mindset of people. They think that people are bad because they have addictions, or are depressed and other mental illnesses. Sometimes other people cause this kind of reaction in other people. EVERYTHING has to do with politics. We forget the wife whose husband has been either financially, physically or mentally abusive and left with no way out after years of raising children. And, what about the children? They are forced to live in places with parents who are abusive to them and circle continues. Most homeless shelters are run by board members who have everything and are just as abusive to people needing shelter because they are power people, and need control of others in some of the worst ways.
    It is time to stop and look, look at what society is doing to each other and count the reasons for poverty and homelessness. Get people help, education, mental stability. It is not that very hard to be kind..
    I have a BS in Psychology and just came out of homelessness and the things I saw, and had to live through were horrifying. Even in your Christian Shelters. Try watching Discovery or Art and Entertainment channel, look at all the asylums that have been shut down in the United States now being used as tourist attractions. Could we not use these buildings for the homeless and have more jobs for people in the mental health field? More jobs, less homelessness, education. I could point fingers all day but what good would it do. When you have no where else to go because your husband depleted all your funds, who cares if a building is haunted? Please tell me where the real problem is because I can’t on social media.

  3. First you must solve the corrupt system. You can throw all kinds of money at homelessness but first look at Seattle my home city. The City collects about one billion dollars a year. Yet anyone with their eyes open can see the city spends maybe $10 million each year. The city refuses to show were the money has gone to… You need to fix the problems like this not just treat the results. Talk and talk some more but your just treating the symptoms and not fixing the real problems. Watch a city employee talk about the city he works for and he see’s first hand that to the leaders of Seattle homelessness is big business and very profitable. Why would they want to change anything? The city employee can be viewed on the video “Seattle is Dying”

    I have been homeless for 6 years now after becoming disabled working for the Forest Service. I get $1,000 a month but nothing else as I am a single man. I am living in my truck with a small camper on the back.

    • While I agree with you in spirit, I am saddened by the video you are using as a source of solutions. I am familiar with this ‘documentary’ and watched it again, just to make sure I didn’t miss something that last time I looked at it. It’s terrible journalism – more like fear mongering propaganda dressed up in a documentary style. They only spoke to people trying to convince the city to use brute force to eliminate homeless people from their neighborhoods and the few people interviewed who are attempting to survive homelessness were also in the grip of full-blown active addiction. It’s an awful example of the usual talking point that push stereotypes and encourage violence against poverty survivors.

      Having said that, you are correct that one aspect to the problem that must be addressed is political corruption and missing money officially earmarked for anti-poverty programs. Poverty is political and the way the local political machine operates directly affects the outcome.

      There are other aspects to the problem that must be addressed. Mass incarceration, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and the life-long effects of having a criminal record – including being blocked from both jobs and housing – are one of those aspects. The increased cost of living, predatory landlords, student loan debt, domestic violence, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and many others also play into this.

      Ultimately, the simple solution is housing – NOT POLICE FORCE and incarceration (in either prisons or hospitals)- for all poverty survivors. Simple housing and access to the resources necessary to live will clear out the streets and put people in a position where they can address other issues and find a path to a better life. That includes the drug addicts who are always given the sole spotlight by the media and people who hate (sometimes violently) anyone who has experienced poverty.

      It also provides the opportunity for the community and the societal culture to address the issues that push people into poverty. This process must include reparations, education and directly addressing the accurate history of the region and the nation.

      We have the ability to address the symptoms of poverty RIGHT NOW. We have the resources and knowledge to address the causes of poverty over time. We, as a society, choose not to and the politicians aggressively maintain that societal decision.

      Yes, poverty is political. We have to choose to change the current political climate and make changes that will actually help address the problem. Unfortunately, that video does the opposite.

  4. I am 70 years old, evicted from my apartment I’m on medication, I have a plate on my lower spine and I’m homeless walking in the streets of Baltimore.
    Why am I homeless?

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