A group of homeless advocates has unveiled examples of a long-brewing plan to create extremely low-cost emergency housing as a temporary remedy while longer term solutions to regional homelessness are sought.
"We've been trying to get people housed for nine years, and it just keeps getting harder, said Jeeni Criscenzo, founder of the women-and-children-focused homeless advocacy group Amikas. "We need somewhere for them to go in the meantime, somewhere safe where they at least can go inside and have a door that locks."
At its simplest, that's what Amikas has in mind — four walls, a roof, and a solid door to lock out would-be predators who make life on the street hard for some of the most at-risk homeless population.
"Right now we have very vulnerable people living on sidewalks — women, children, elderly, and disabled, who are being traumatized by life on the streets," said Criscenzo.
Adds Amikas boardmember and real estate attorney Shanna Welsh-Levin, "There are a lot of unique aspects to the difficulties that homeless women and children face. You don't see them or the problems they're facing on the street; they often resort to 'safer' shelter," she says, alluding to women who remain in abusive relationships or find themselves forced into prostitution in order to retain shelter.