When I was growing up, one of my father’s favorite sayings (borrowed from the humorist Will Rogers) was: “It isn’t what we don’t know that causes the trouble; it’s what we think we know that just ain’t so.” One of the main insights to be taken from the 100,000 Homes campaign and its strategy to end chronic homelessness, which I wrote about in Tuesdays’ column, is that, until recently, our society though
This is a story about a plan to end chronic homelessness in the United States. It’s not an indeterminate “war on homelessness,” but a methodical approach to do away with a major social problem. Each day, roughly 700,000 people in the country are homeless. About 120,000 are chronically homeless. They often live on the streets for years and have mental disabilities, addiction problems and life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Most homeless shelters don't have ballrooms. Walking into the elegant lobby of New York's old Prince George Hotel, with its richly hued woodwork, feels like you've entered some Merchant Ivory movie, not a residence for displaced individuals. It's the surprising creation of Rosanne Haggerty, founder and director of the nonprofit Common Ground. Her organization creates similarly attractive facilities across the city— some elaborate renovations like this one, some built from scratch. The goal is a benign and inclusive form of gentrification.