The city of Santa Rosa, California has partnered with Catholic Charities in order to provide its homeless population with trailers that include free showers and bathrooms to use during this week.
According to ThinkProgress, the effort cost about $87,000; there are four locations across the city in which homeless individuals can take 10-minute hot showers and use any necessary bathroom facilities.
Santa Rosa is using this as an opportunity to help connect the homeless with resources that could potentially help them find housing and jobs. “Social workers stationed at the trailers will talk to them about their needs and connect them with assistance, particularly permanent housing,” ThinkProgress reports.
Santa Rosa’s Mayor, John Sawyer, believes “This is one piece of a larger puzzle of connecting people to vital services they so need and deserve.”
This is an infinitely different outlook from other California mayors, such as San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, who posed an impossible scenario for San Francisco’s homeless during the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50: “They are going to have to leave.” Rather than taking the event as an opportunity to help provide the homeless with services they needed, Lee simply wanted them to disappear.
One of the best aspects of Santa Rosa’s efforts is the individuals who are in charge. Rodney Hill, 51, used to be homeless for four years until he was employed by Catholic Charities—now, he will be driving one of the trailers that offers the sanitation services.
“This program is going to give hope and belief to people that they can make it,” he said, according to The Press Democrat.
Directing efforts to housing and employing the homeless rather than leaving them on the streets has also been proven to be the financially superior option. In Colorado, taxpayers spend about $43,000 each year per homeless individual. However, one particular city, Fort Lyon, invested in housing for its homeless, and taxpayers in that city ultimately only paid about $16,000 per individual.
Santa Rosa is launching the first, crucial step to connecting with the homeless and offering them the resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
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