HomeFree is a program aimed at reaching the chronically homeless population in Tucson and beyond. What separates HomeFree from other programs is that each care package contains a positive message and is personally delivered to recipients thus reaching them right where they are. HomeFree has been implemented on a small scale, and though small, has positively touched the lives of those involved.
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Homelessness maintains a persistent presence in Pima County and throughout the country. Subset populations exist within the general group of those defined as homeless one of which is chronic homeless.
Homelessness continues to be addressed through community outreach and various government programs. The approach and solution is often to transition them from the streets.
Those defined as chronically homeless consistently face difficulty when transitioning from the streets into housing. Reaching them on the streets is important if transition is not a possibility.
In a 2013 Point in Time survey, approximately 38 percent of the purported 3,100 homeless living on the street are identified as chronically homeless (1). According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development report, chronically homeless means “a person has experienced homelessness more than four times in the past three years or has been homeless for one continuous year or longer and has a disabling medical, mental or addictive condition.” The same report stated that “chronically homeless individuals include the most vulnerable, the most visible street homeless and the most difficult population to serve. Many have lived on the streets for years and have difficulty transitioning to housing and reconnecting with community…they account for more than 50 percent of the public dollars spent on homelessness and utilize 50 percent of homeless resources such as shelter beds and case management.”
At the completion of a 2013 Point in Time survey, there were 194 unsheltered, chronically homeless individuals living in Pima County.
Goal 1 of HomeFree is to effectively reach those persons defined as chronically homeless who struggle and have no desire to transition from the streets into housing, staying in the environment where they are most comfortable. Reaching those who wish to remain on the streets will help to reduce wasted resources thereby freeing those resources to be used for those seeking a transition opportunity.
Goal 2 of HomeFree is to supply chronically homeless individuals with daily living essentials such as toothbrushes, tooth paste, baby wipes, sanitizing wipes, hats, shirts, sun block, water, and nonperishable food items. If those considered chronically homeless are choosing to remain on the streets, assisting them with basic items will potentially reduce spending by reducing emergency room visits and vagrancy.
Goal 3 of HomeFree is to empower those defined as chronically homeless to positively contribute to society while remaining on the streets by reminding them of their humanness and connection despite their living situation. Accomplishing this goal could see a reduction in crime, littering, and vagrancy.
Goal 4 of HomeFree is to reach 80-90% of Pima County’s chronically homeless population (approximately 175 individuals) during FY 14/15. At this time in the fiscal year, 19 individuals have been provided packages.
There are many ways to get involved with HomeFree. You can donate your time and help with the acquisition, assembly, or distribution process. You can donate items to be used in a give away. You can start your own homeless outreach program in your community! All that is needed is you and a heart and mind to give :)
List of Items
StrangersWeKnow collects and acquires items for HomeFree throughout the entire year.
Items primarily given are: