The video presentation Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA can be seen on YouTube:
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PDF of all slides in the presentation:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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 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.
The resources currently available have three (3) possible formats: 1) a cold site, 2) a warm site, and 3) a hot 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!