I shot and edited this vlog down and dirty to get it up quick. It may not be the best video production, but the content and what we talked about is what’s the most important.
20 people sleep outside in Ithaca’s infamous tent encampment known as “The Jungle.” I learned near the end of the video that everyone sleeping outside in the freezing weather has a housing voucher. What they don’t have is the support to get out of homelessness into the housing, so they sleep in tents in subzero weather. What does this mean? ITHACA COULD END HOMELESSNESS FOR THESE 20 PEOPLE IF IT WANTED TO!
It’s not that anyone is bad. Homeless services are filled with bureaucracy and are horribly inefficient. The system is also overwhelmed. Added to that there is a severe lack of affordable housing in Ithaca.
It’s not just Ithaca. Social services everywhere have to go by the rules placed onto them by the government and private funders. Funders and the leaders making the decisions are often far removed from front line service. Boxes have to be checked. Data must be collected, and people are reduced to spreadsheets. The problem is that even though people are complex, the solution to getting someone off the streets may be simple yet the system never allows for any flexibility.
Carmen Guidi and Deb Wilke are doing what they can to fill in the gaps. Carmen owns a body shop. He has no social services training, but when he learned of people sleeping outside in Ithaca homeless, he started to take action to do something. Deb is a mother and a housewife. Her whole family comes out to the Jungle to help their homeless neighbors.
A highlight to be is a husband and wife volunteering for the first time connected with Carmen after watching Invisible People videos. Carmon goes on to tell the story of a man he met out in the wood last week who was helping homeless people rebuild a shack. The man told Carmen he recognized him from Invisible People videos, which is what motivated him to go to the Jungle and start helping people.
This is poverty in America. This is poverty in rural America. Normal citizens are starting to take tangible actions to help end homelessness. As cool as that is, social services needs to be out in Ithaca’s tent city working alongside people to get them out of tents and into housing!
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