If the fate of the homeless, the incarcerated, the poor and the disadvantaged is so heavily influenced by society, what changes can we make to ensure a better quality of life for our brothers and sisters? The socioeconomic structure of the United States and the criminal justice and legal systems have hit the homeless twice, meaning that we need to address the intersectional concerns facing this population. We need to focus on identities and individuals, rather than numbers and an entire subcategory of people.
New Continuums of Care
The way in which we must address homelessness relies on new strategies for coping with mental health concerns, new support structures for those re-entering society after imprisonment, drug rehabilitation, military service or facing health crises, as well as addressing current societal structures such as class and race systems. Programs to aid the homeless should focus on the following concerns in order to address many of the complex problems facing the homeless:
- Decriminalizing homelessness- repealing federal, state and local laws and policies targeted at the homeless
- Introducing new community court systems and alternative sentencing programs aimed at the homeless populations and intersecting identities
- Addressing discrimination against the homeless directly, as well as against the impoverished and minorities
- Ensuring continuous care for those with mental illness or chronic medical conditions, including housing and gainful employment
- Expanding re-entry programs for those leaving the criminal justice system and drug rehabilitation centers