Local leaders work on plan to end homelessness

By Rishi Sidhu | Jul 03, 2012

The new strategy to end homelessness in Wareham is called "housing first," and it involves putting the homeless in homes.

If that sounds like stating the obvious, members of the newly formed Wareham Community Leadership Council on Homelessness say putting the homeless in homes involves a lot more than matching bodies and real estate.

"Housing first" aims to provide the homeless with homes -- and the stability they need to get their lives on track.

"If you stabilize their lives, then they're able to work, they're able to participate in their community in a meaningful way," said Jim Rattray, co-chair of the Leadership Council and vice president of marketing and public affairs for the Southcoast Health System.

The 12-person council has met only twice and is still trying to get its arms around the extent of Wareham homelessness.

A survey done for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development put the number of Wareham's homeless at 22 in 2012. Members of the clergy who work with the homeless say the number of "chronic homeless" may be as great as 50 with others moving in and out of homelessness.

Council members also added that many of the chronically homeless not only live on the streets, some of them also live out in the woods -- specifically, the woods behind Walmart in East Wareham.

"People exist out in the woods, with no contact or with very little contact with people in the community as we know it," said Tom Fitzpatrick, a member of the Leadership Council and a volunteer with Turning Point, a Wareham organization that provides temporary resources for the homeless or near-homeless.

Many of the "chronic homeless" simply do not want to be found, but local clergy may be starting to gain their trust through an emergency shelter program that has run for the past four winters.

In the program, called Nights of Hospitality, local churches take turns opening their doors to homeless for the night. The homeless get a warm meal and a place to sleep during the cold winter nights.

The participating churches have seen usage of the program increase over the years -- from three to five people stopping by in the beginning to 10 or more most recently.

Still, that leaves many homeless who do not use the program.

Council member Fitzpatrick is hopeful that once a homeless person sees another person using a successful "housing first" program, that person night consider also using the program.

"If you get them into housing, maybe that way you gain some credibility with the other subpopulation that you don't have access to … because those two populations talk to each other," said Fitzpatrick.

Housing first may also make economic sense.

The homeless population increases costs both in health care and in public safety, Rattray said.

Increased health costs are seen because the homeless use the emergency room even for non-emergency care. Once people are in homes, they tend to use the emergency room less, Rattray said.

Public safety costs arise due to more calls to the police, not only by the homeless themselves, but by other residents calling about the homeless, Rattray said.

"A relatively small number of people have a big economic impact," said David Shaw, a member of the Leadership Council and pastor at the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene, one of the churches that participates in the Nights of Hospitality.

The Leadership Council is tasked with coming up with a plan, called the "Wareham Community Plan to End Homelessness," in late fall or early winter, Shaw said.

The Council is not tasked with implementing the plan, however. That responsibility will lie in a collaboration of organizations that could include nonprofits, alcohol-related addiction facilities, town government agencies, and state agencies, among others, Shaw said.

Though it is still too early to say anything definite, housing could come from repurposing existing housing stock, new construction, or renting from existing landlords, "or maybe all of that," Shaw said.

Attacking homelessness on the principle of housing first also has another motive, Fitzpatrick said.

"The reason [to support housing first] is because that is the national strategy, that's where all the funding lies," he said. "If you're going to try to solve a problem like this in a community like Wareham … you want to put forth a strategy that is highly supported by the state and federal government because you want to tap resources that are available."

Shaw had a different way explaining the need for housing first, using the old proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

"This housing first is really an attempt to teach people how to fish," said Shaw. "A handout is never as good as helping people stand on their own two feet."

Comments (29)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 03, 2012 16:04

Build it and they will come. First the Downtown benches, next Flop houses. We are truly doomed as a successful Town. 

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 03, 2012 20:36

spherebreaker, why is it you have nothing nice to say about any of the good things people in Wareham are trying to do? Is it because you yourself do nothing good in Wareham like you claim you do? You are probably the biggest eyesore this Town has constantly spewing nothing but hate here. Success comes from being good of heart and mind which would indicate there is nothing good about you. You need to crawl back under your rock and stay there - there is a real world going on you know or care nothing about.

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 03, 2012 22:16

amen to that justice! hate hate hate that's all anyone ever sees from this idiot. if he is so successful then why is he still in wareham?

Posted by: Mr.Happy | Jul 04, 2012 09:50

 Justice, maybe it is that Spherebreaker speaks of probable reality and that is what bothers you.  Fact is, this town is on a downward spiral and he/she may be somewhat brusque but that does not make the statement incorrect.

 I know through personal experience that you can give the homeless shelter and employment but most will revert back to homeless status. It is a life style for them period.  

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 04, 2012 19:25

Merely excuses for not being part of the solution and to criticize those who are. spherebreaker has a long standing reputation for hate here no matter what the issue. Mr Happy you could not possibly have enough "personal experience" to match the increasing rate of homelessness here in Wareham or anywhere. In just the last few days, today included, I have spoken to several homeless and soon to be homeless who do NOT choose homelessness as a "life style" - "period"!

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 04, 2012 20:36

The increasing rate of homelessness in Wareham is due in part to the fact that it is allowed to happen. It is also due in part that there are some that coddle and assist people on their path to self destruction. Many of those same people claim to be helping but only fast track anothers further demise. You state that I am the one that hates, I say it is you that hates to do what you do to these people under the cloak of helping them. If you truly wanted to help them you would have them locked up and dryed out until they are capable of being taught to fish and on the way to being productive citizens again. Next time you talk to your buddies tell them to put the bottle down or stay on their meds. You would be doing them a far greater favor than telling them you have a free place to party

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 04, 2012 22:28

spherebreaker? Did you just say homelessness "is due in part to the fact that it is allowed to happen"? That is absolutely the most idiotic statement I have ever heard someone utter and to date by far the best proof you have offered to being a true hater. "free place to party"? Okay the second most idiotic statement I have ever heard someone utter and yet even more proof to your hatred. Of course intermingled in your idiocy of above and without a doubt unwittingly you have proven my point by stating "tell them to put the bottle down or stay on their meds". So where exactly would that advice and those "meds" come from if not for treatment and rehab centers manned by those who "assist"? I could of course bore you with statistics I just don't think your narrow minded brain could handle it however the rate of recovery for drug addicts, alcoholics, and homeless is far more successful because of those who "assist". Even more narrow minded is the statement "have them locked up and dryed(dried) out" which any slightly educated individual would agree only delays the problem - more statistics on that subject would probably give you a migraine. By all means retort as not only do I enjoy exposing your character I am quite sure it is being enjoyed by the many others you spew hatred upon.

Posted by: Dantien | Jul 04, 2012 22:47

Hate, hate, hate.... Every time you disagree with a liberal rather than join in a possibly productive discussion they always call your opinion Hate Speach or the call you names.


It is a fact that many homeless are so by choice. Helping the unfortunate un or underemployed and families would be more productive.


Dependency is encouraged by hand outs. Humans will rise to the occasion when they are challenged to survive but not when given a handouts.

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 05, 2012 07:15

There is nothing "liberal" about being nothing more than a keyboarding contradiction in terms simply for the sake of argument. The term "productive discussion" is also contradictory when placed in the same sentence as "liberal". And anyone who believes that "dependency is encouraged by hands outs" is just plain ignorant. If you want productivity then simply compliment and applaud those with integrity and leave the hate, yes HATE, in your reclusive closet.

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 05, 2012 07:54


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 05, 2012 08:16

Press the bottle to their lips and pull the trigger as you sing them a whiskey lullaby, Justice.

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 05, 2012 08:34

Although you have already been blessed with anonymity we are praying for you.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 05, 2012 09:10

I agree LOL, may I suggest "My way or you u b hate'n" as the title.

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 05, 2012 21:12

this is a riot. justice beats u every which way to sunday and u just keep coming back for more. u r beyond the "sake of argument" or  "contradition" u r just a pathetic fool. totally a good thing this is anonymous cuz nobody wuld admit to knowing u in the real world. hit him again justice to see if he gets back up. go justice go justice

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 05, 2012 22:02

Maybe this should be a learning experience for you LOL. No matter how much life's adversities or those with"integrity"  beat you down, you get right back up. Problem with not pulling up your own boot straps is if you let someone else do it for you, you are most likely going to end up on your face. PS Were you ever a cheerleader LOL or did poor grades keep you out of it?

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 05, 2012 22:24

We all know what happens when you ASSume don't we spherebreaker? Your "cheerleader" reference is also quite scary and wouldn't be surprising to know that you toggle between this blog and cheerleader websites. The fact of the matter is I have nothing to learn from the likes of you as although this is an anonymous blog your total lack of "integrity" comes through loud and clear. If the "pulling up your own boots straps" is the best retort you can offer I will "ASSume" you admit to being beaten. Of course that is the first step to recovery yet with you believing recovery belongs to only those with the problem I will also "ASSume" recovery is not anywhere in your future. Have I proven my grade level yet? Please do not by any means accept this posting as a request for further retort because like justice I choose not to beat a man when he is down!

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 05, 2012 22:48

Very clever Justice aka LOL. You are your own cheerleader! What a fraud of the highest degree, both of you are or should I say you are.  Split personalities, who would have figured that? How many more of you are there or did the lobotomy finish the rest off?

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 05, 2012 23:06

interesting word "fraud"! kinda like the "contradictions" youve used here eh? and fyi - justice and i are friends outside this blog so yes there is some connection. ppl like us connect on many levels but you would know that if you ventured beyond your puter.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jul 06, 2012 11:02

Twelve foreclosures in Wareham in May. Eleven foreclosure proceedings initiated in Wareham in May. Rental fees in Massachusetts have risen an average of five percent across Massachusetts since January 1, 2012. The reason for the rental fees going up? So many people have lost their homes due to foreclosure, or short-saled their homes to avoid foreclosure, walking away without one cent of equity after the sale. With all the extra demand for rental units, many landlords are seizing the opportunity to raise rental fees.

Think it's easy to find "affordable" housing? Take a look at advertisements for local year round rentals...see what reasonably safe housing costs to rent per month. Consider a minimum wage salary, an unemployment check, a social security check, welfare check, or no income at all...the cost of utilities added in, the cost of food...the cost of renting reasonably safe housing.

Consider the definition of compassion (from http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/compassion):

"sorrow or the capacity to feel sorrow for another's suffering or misfortune <treats the homeless with great compassion>"

and then consider the near antonyms and antonyms for compassion also from http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/compassion:

Near Antonyms indifference, insensitivity, unconcern;cruelty, harshness, inhumanity; animosity, antipathy, dislike,hatred, hostility

Antonyms callousness, coldheartedness, hard-heartedness,heartlessness

Posted by: resident | Jul 06, 2012 11:47

Oh look who it is " And Justice For All " so you changed your name but not your condescending, rude and cantankerous attitude. And now you have cheerleaders? wow!!!! Well thats till the get to know everything that comes from your mouth is diarrhea.  Let me ask you...  And Justice For All,  your new alter ego, are you the character Arthur Kirkland the tempered do right attorney,"this court is outta order!!!!!" maybe the ulimate Pacino fan, maybe next time you'll be Tony Montana or Serpico? Maybe I'm way off base it could be your home air drumming... dreaming of being Lars Ulrich. ROCK ON !!!

Just because you go sit an a bench and talk to someone who is homeless and someone who could be homeless for whatever reason does not make you an expert. But then again you read the preface and claim you read the book. Bottom line is breaker and happy are right you can bring the homeless to a shelter give them food and a bed and next there sitting on there favorite bench. Though the idea of giving housing locally is well intended it will draw more to homeless to town.  

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jul 06, 2012 12:20

There are two kinds of shelters...1)shelters that provide the emergency assistance of food and a bed  and 2) shelters that provide emergency assistance plus a number of services to help the homeless build a better future. Both rise from compassion, one just has more funding available than does the other.

Misunderstanding and lack of knowledge often give rise to unsettled feelings and sometimes to absolute fear. Those who have concerns about the possible outcome of meetings being held by the Wareham Community Leadership Council on Homelessness, should consider contacting a representative of the Council and asking about attending meetings.

Also local media can help both the Council and the entire community by routinely covering the Council's efforts.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 06, 2012 13:48

Andrea, They are talking about more than shelters. They want to rent home and apartments and possibly build new units. This will make Wareham the go to location if you are homeless. Come to Wareham and you get a free house or apartment will be the chatter on every skid row this side of Cambridge. If there are 50 now, we will have 100s once the word gets out. Is that what we want for Wareham? heck no! This needs to be met with overwhelming opposition and enforcement of vagrancy laws. Sorry but taxpayers and property owners cannot take any more abuse. This goes for accessory apartments too.

Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 06, 2012 15:17

Thank you so much Andrea for adding a new flavor to this mix of nuts. "Fear" is exactly what is prevalent here amidst the pure hate also being displayed. What you will never see however Andrea is any of these nuts attending any meeting that benefits anyone but themselves. I like to sum it up using the word hate however "fear", laziness, ignorance, and selfishness better describe it.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 06, 2012 16:13

Justice, Can I play Loveof life for awhile now? U go Justice N beat these haters down. U beat em intwo next weak and they aint nuthin butt weak pathetic "ignorant" fools. me n u as a team wuld make uz unbeatable, c'mon wat ya say Jsutice. Giv them the undre the rock line agian. That realy gits them all in "contridiction" and "retort'n". I ken help wid the column 2.  GO JUSTICE GO JUSTICE u Go JUsTice.

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 06, 2012 19:01

actually spherebreaker it's GO ANDREA now! gee i wonder who she really is? looks like paranoia has set in. btw how does that dirt taste? LOLOLOLOLOL

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 09, 2012 07:18

Is Andrea another alias you use LOL?

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 09, 2012 13:15

hehehe paranoia has definitely set it. thats wut u get spherebreaker. prolly comes from breathing in too much dirt.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 09, 2012 14:21

No paranoia LOL, Just exposing you and your multiple screen names as the fraud you are.

Andrea will your compassion be so forthcoming should they ask you to rent a room to a life long addict or falling down drunk? I challenge you to be the first landlord in this program. Put your safety and property values where your mouth is. Lets just see where your compassion level is.

Posted by: LoveOfLife | Jul 09, 2012 19:39

"multiple screen names" is yur best defense against being a piece of human garbage? yur the 1 that's been exposed by every1 that reads u. only those who cant accept a "challenge" make challenges. cant believe u havent dried up by now with all the dirt yuv been eatin. done here but we'll see u beaten up somewhere else soon.

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