The bedrock for a safe, vibrant and welcoming downtown is a quality of life that demonstrates wellness and well-being for all residents. Like many UPMOs, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance believes there is no single fix for the complex issues surrounding homelessness, mental health and addiction. Our goal is to address the problem comprehensively through various initiatives and by partnering with multiple social service organizations and local government entities, focusing on bringing resources directly to those in need – in essence, mobilizing a one-stop shop to assist in navigating what can be a challenging system of bureaucracy.
As the chair of the Evolving Homeless Services Top Issues Council, I joined my peers in debating these challenges throughout our research. Solutions vary, but there was no question that we must find a way to provide the same opportunities to thrive and feel safe and welcome for the chronically unsheltered as we do the office workers, residents, businesses and visitors. Our collective responsibility is to foster an environment of inclusion and safety and to support the well-being of all, especially for people experiencing chronic homelessness, who are the most vulnerable residents of our districts. To support these individuals, our research highlights the critical need for counting high mortality rates in this population, changing approaches for addressing escalated behavior, how UPMOs are bridging the services gap, and finally, advocating at all levels for better homeless services support.
As downtown practitioners, we have a unique opportunity to become homelessness-advocacy leaders by undertaking efforts to address barriers to care and advocating for civic and nonprofit resources. In choosing this leadership role, we can effectively support the health, safety and well-being of people experiencing chronic homelessness; counter the negative impacts of chronic homelessness in our districts; and further strengthen our communities.
To learn more about the 2022 Evolving Homeless Services Top Issues Council Report Brief, please visit IDA’s Publications page. The brief is free for IDA members. There will also be a Homelessness Facilitated Forum during IDA’s 68th Annual Conference & Marketplace in Vancouver, BC on Friday, September 23, 2022, at 8:30 am PT. Review the conference program here.