Mr. Greg Shinn holds a degree in Social Work, ran a Homeless Shelter on Wallstreet and is the Associated Director of the Mental Health Association of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In his capacity as mental health director, he was responsible for the development and implementation of many programs of affordable housing and additional services for the homeless with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders. This has evolved into a vision with supportive statistics for “Mixed Income Model” of housing, or “How to get your corner of the market.”
Mr. Shinn urges, “We must interrupt the homeless cycle at the earliest possible point,” in order to break that cycle and evolve into a more thriving community. He suggests his model of creative housing as a viable investment in community development that will ultimately economically advance both the homeless section of society, as well as the community as a whole. He does not address the issue of those homeless who are unable or unwilling to take on the responsibilities of the housing he suggests, other than “a strong emergency housing” program, or shelter where the more entrenched chronically homeless, can receive better supportive mental health, and associated services, as well as act as a “triage” in assessing their needs, capacities and desires to progress in society. He also assures communities that his model is not simply offering a “free ride,” either. This housing option comes with month-to-month rental and lease covenants, or rules. If these are broken, tenants could be evicted as in any rental, but interventions can occur for “eviction prevention” and relocation to bump back sites with less satisfying options. In this way, rentals and locations are fluid and can change, with changes in circumstances, needs and willingness to comply to social and housing rules. To this point, Gregg declares that “Housing is Curative” and backs up that statement with the Tulsa statistic that even when 30% of the housed population do not respond maximally to drug and alcohol abuse services, 94% stay housed, indicating that they were motivated to keep their dysfunctions moderated to the point that they would not commit any major lease violations resulting in evictions. The goal of the program “is not 100% conversion, but harm reduction.”
Tulsa has developed, over their 25 years in this model, 26 Properties, providing almost 1,000 reserved housing units in 16 low density housing sites, scattered throughout the city and county. Each location offers different advantages that address the individual needs and desires of the housed, such as proximity to needed support services, family, church/faith-based support, schools, jobs, etc. A percentage of homes are reserved to provide “controlled housing” for the marginalized with rents ranging from free to a straight 30% of income as individuals progress economically. It can even offer Debt Free Ownership Models where individuals can enter into a partnership with the community to leverage their skill and service capitol. The reserved homes provide a “stock” of affordable housing that is protected against cost escalation from redevelopment and gentrification of low income neighborhoods. As more homes are reserved than the current “need,” there will be homes quickly available, for any future “situationally homeless” as well as those evolving out of the “triage/emergency” sites. These developments are viewed, also, as long term investments that can be owned and managed by any combination of non-profit and profit driven entities, for the developers, also, can achieve profits through the balance of reserved housing and open market housing, then add their share of income taxes to the city/county funds.
Mr. Shinn also made a compelling presentation on how his model is currently being presented to two major communities in Florida, and can be presented to other communities, nationally, in the same way. That presentation focused on statistics verified by the 25 year history in the Tulsa model, as well as those projected in the proposed host community for this model. The “scatter site” model of integrated socio-economic level development offers many host communities the opportunity to be part of the solution, without any one being overburdened by the cost nor responsibilities of service. He presented many statistics on the high cost of emergency health care for the homeless and the habit of “incarcerating our way out of the problem,” as compared to the cost of housing supported by needed restoration and preventative services. Greg sited statistics on the increase in the numbers of individuals and families housed in this model who were still sustaining their residences one year later. Sited, also, was how the value of financial investment into the homeless who had been draining the community economically, was compounded with the increased number of those that came to contribute, financially, to the economy through taxes on their increasing, sustainable income. One major concern he addressed, was the commonly expressed agreement of the public, with housing the homeless, in theory, but just “not in MY neighborhood.” He shared one incident that was a major break-through in one community’s fear of an imminent increase of crime. It was in a neighborhood, hit hard by the height of the recession, and when a vacated community center was under conversion to housing. The neighborhood association picketed and fought it on every front. But, after time, when they saw the actual reduction of crime and the revitalization of the community, they became supportive and actually started holding their neighborhood association meetings, there.
Mr. Shinn, also gave some practical administrative advise on how to organize this program at the administrative level. He recommended inclusion of 3-4 non-profits on the Board of Directors for Agency Administration, as well as financial support. They have found that United Way is one of their major supporters. The Development team would include an urban planner, CFO of operations, and legal consultant.The Project level would heavily utilize young people who are aging out of foster care, etc as consultants, and the team would include an urban planner, construction manager, architects, subcontractors, as needed, and operations manager with good contacts. In order to facilitate the right timing for the right housing option, develop a “gap analysis” for your community, and later for individual homeless within that community, then prioritize and provide accordingly. The progression of needs may include a Crisis/Drop-in Shelter, 24 hr. transitional shelter, a Safe-Haven with 24/7 staffing at a single site, and the scatter site development offering accessible services, as needed.
So, Gregg Shinn summarizes his own ‘Strategies for Ending Homelessness: Development Outcomes and Economic Impact,” and “Creative Housing Solution: Innovative Community Planning, as follows:
1. Allowing Homelessness to exist in your community is more expense than providing the solution.
2. The Solution to the Problem (Affordable Housing) is an Economic Driver in and of itself.
3. It’s all about access
4. Affordable Housing Development creates Jobs
(implied, but not detailed)
5. Economic Opportunity creates Hope.
6 Track outcomes and returns on Investments.