By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston
|Adapted from Tanya Cordrey's "Saying No to More Good Ideas."|
A good idea is not the same as a great opportunity.
The news provides a steady stream of project ideas relating to homelessness.
Salem residents are constantly bombarding the City and each other with those good ideas, most of which they've not researched and know very little about.
The City's problem is not a shortage of good ideas.
Nor does the City's suffer from a lack of compassion. A big heart is no substitute for a big brain when it comes to solving complex social problems.
We should not be asking the City (OR United Way OR the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency) to clog their roadmaps with ideas that, cumulatively, have no real impact. (This is assuming they have roadmaps.) We should instead be asking them to double down on needs-based, housing first interventions, and, if necessary, unclog their homeless housing and services roadmaps. We should be asking them to listen to the professionals. We should be asking them to cut their support for programs that aren't demonstrably making a difference, and focus on what is known to work.
And by "work" is not meant managing or responding to complaints about homelessness, but moving people experiencing homelessness into stable housing.
Because saying yes to every good idea means Salem will continue to miss out on the great opportunities, and the numbers of chronically homeless will just continue to grow.