Life on the Inside

So how does a give-away program like Pathways to Housing earn
accolades from the White House? According to homelessness czar
Philip Mangano, by being research-driven, cost-conscious, and
accountable. By providing up-front rent and start-up costs for the
homeless, the program keeps people out of the hospitals, courts,
and prisons that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Pathways’ unique funding structure also has bipartisan appeal.
The program does depend in part on government and foundation
grants, but it relies largely on a savvy staff that navigates the
bureaucracies that are impenetrable from many homeless people, and
finds them the benefits to which they are already entitled. For one
man named Andre, that amounted to some $1500 a month in veterans’
benefits, disability benefits, Section 8 rent assistance, food
stamps, and the list goes on.

The Pathways program is novel in other ways, as well — most
notably in its approach to mental illness. The common assumption is
that mental illness leads to homelessness. Pathways turns that
formula on its head, operating from the assumption that not having
a place to live exacerbates what could be a moderate, treatable
form of mental illness. The program also provides services such as
psychiatric and job counseling.

Given 400,000 homeless people living in New York alone,
Pathways’ scope — it serves about 500 clients in the city New York
— might seem inconsequential. Douglas McGray argues in Mother
Jones
, though, that those are impressive figures for such a
radical, young program. Pathways hopes to win more fans by
expanding to Washington, D.C.
Hannah Lobel

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Life on the Inside

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