Homelessness is one of the worse problems we face in our world today. Even large cities in countries with excellent social benefits are seeing an increase in the number of homeless people. But there are also seeds of hope. Farming Hope has a solution for dealing with homelessness.
Farming Hope‘s Solution for Homelessness
Homelessness is on the rise in many regions of our world.
The Many Causes of Homelessness
It is estimated that around 150 million people worldwide are homeless right now. But the concrete number could be much higher than the ones presented to us because the characteristics and causes of homelessness are complex and varied to be measured.
As complex, as they can be, the leading causes of homelessness, are:
1. Mental or physical health problems
2. Relation of family breakdown
3. Escaping from a brutal relationship or cruel childhood
4. Poverty and unemployment
5. Substance misuse and other addictive behaviors
6. Leaving the armed forces, Health care or prison without a stable house to go
7. Migration and asylum
8. A Complex Combination of the Many challenges
Homeless people often face very different problems. Municipalities and care-providing organizations do not always provide sufficient support to these vulnerable people who cannot survive well on their own, which is necessary to prevent deterioration and relapse into repeated homelessness.
There is Vast Diversity Among the Homeless
Gemen Stoffers director The Salvation Army in Rotterdam has also established that the diversity of homeless people has increased.
You no longer talk about the homeless today, but about people with psychological addiction problems, people with huge debts, divorced women or women who have ended up in prostitution, people with mild intellectual disabilities, foreigners, both EU residents and refugees without valid residence status, people who became (partly) displaced as a result of the economic crisis, families with children.
He also points out that the isolation of man is an underestimated reason for wandering. Despite this digital age, far fewer people use social networks such as friends, colleagues, or family, there is less social control.
According to Lia van Doorn – lecturer in Innovative Social Services at Hogeschool Utrecht – the increase in the number of homeless people in the Netherlands is primarily due to developments in the housing market.
“Rents are rising while at the same time, people who are dependent on a minimum wage or a benefit have hardly experienced an increase in their disposable income in the last ten to fifteen years.” One can no longer pay the rent and then go live temporarily at a campsite or camp in the car for a while until that no longer works. “The step to homelessness is then quickly made.”
Homelessness – Social Exclusion and Stigmatization
This continuation of homelessness, especially among the wealthy countries, often reflects denial, the lack of motivation, and the necessary vigor from authorities and the community to address poverty and many other issues.
It is, of course, a problem when officials try to open new facilities or offer services to the homeless, face financial constraints and resistance from the public and private companies in many neighborhoods, which consider homelessness troublesome and bad for business. There is often also resistance from society.
Outdated Approaches to Homelessness
Also, many countries using a staircase model: wherein you are supposed to move through different stages of temporary accommodation as you got your life back on track, with an own roof above your head as the ultimate goal. This model suggests that you first have to solve your problems before you get a house. But a more humane approach would say that a home should be a safe foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.
Addressing the symptomatic problems of homelessness can be conductive, but it will not automatically solve the cause of the circumstances of an individual. For example, for someone struggling with poor mental health or addiction, it may be practically impossible to meet education and work obligations.
This outdated system is not working. Because more than half of the homeless in the night or crisis shelter appears to have been homeless before. The problem is; not the person, but the system with all sorts of rules and criteria is central. Municipalities seem to pay less attention to cooperation and knowledge exchange with other care providers, and so the aid cannot be adequately attuned to the demand for assistance.
The Need for Providing Underlying Security
Finding work and earning enough money to be able to afford a home is, of course, important for people trying to get out of the homelessness cycle. But there are also insufficient affordable homes for homeless people who have finished their aid programs. Even people with jobs sometimes cannot afford adequate housing on minimum wages.
Beside appropriate support, a roof over the head and participation in society must be a priority to give homeless people a perspective on sustainable improvement of their situation. Some will require permanent support and some only a safety net.
Reception and Support for Homeless People Often do not Lead to Sustainable Improvement
Many shelters can no longer handle the offer. More and more often, they have to keep their doors locked when homeless people ask for help.
Some people were evicted from their homes and became homeless. That is why many municipalities are committed to preventing evictions. When homeless people are unable to free themselves from their isolated existence in the first few months, their future looks very gloomy.
Shelters in large cities are seeing an increase in the number of homeless people. But due to a shortage of accommodation, these people can always get a suitable place to sleep. There are men, women, and children who sleep on cardboard on cracked sidewalks. It doesn’t feel humane to see people living on the streets under terrible conditions. Things can be even more complicated when it comes to homeless families with small children. What these people ask for are opportunities for a home, meaning, healing, love, hope.
Farming Hope: It’s all about Community
What if municipalities and organizations would enable homeless people to be self-sufficient? And what is you can make an impact on hunger and unemployment? Suppose you can taste and pay for creative dishes that support a meaningful business; would you go?
In 2016, San Francisco had 6,500 homeless people. It’s no secret there that towering house prices have fueled the problem. Farming Hope, a new non-profit organization in San Francisco, operates according to a simple principle: the key to ending homelessness is work and community. Although Farming Hope is a relatively young organization, it has already seen successful changes in the lives of homeless employees.
The Art of Farming Hope
Farming Hope is a culinary program and social movement that fight poverty by creating jobs, career training, and a supportive community. How do they do that? By turning the soup kitchen model upside down. Instead of serving food to homeless individuals, they learn how to grow, cook, and help homeless people. This way stimulates self-esteem, new skills, and a chance of income.
Employees play an integral role in the kitchen by preparing and serving the food they have helped harvest. For the preparation of food, they use freshly picked products and other donated ingredients.
The pop-up dinners and the lunch stall offer homeless people valuable opportunities to communicate with members of society that they might not otherwise meet.
“We use ancestral Mexican wisdom to transform imperfect produce into nourishing, vegetable-focused cuisine. Our gardens grow food for our pop-up restaurants, where everyone can share their story, and the medium for our story is the menu”.
Farming Hope is a social movement promoting self-sufficiency by creating equitable opportunities in local food businesses. Our mission is to employ and empower neighbors experiencing or at risk of homelessness to grow food and feed others. We place an emphasis on employment training and skills building to set our employees up for sustained employment on their journey out of poverty. This is accomplished through employment in our food business, our kitchen gardens, and through programming exercises that emphasize setting and working toward goals, work readiness, and community engagement. Farming Hope was born out of the Stanford Design School and we use key principles of Human-Centered Design in our operations. We encourage feedback and leadership from employees at all levels of the organization. Special focus is placed on developing an exemplary model for food as a tool for community organizing.
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Esther Haasnoot is intuitive and healer. Also, the initiator of Global Heart magazine. Where she encourages and inspires towards a conscious, healthy, harmonious, sustainable, and loving society. To create an uplifting and positive future for all of us.