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Serving a Community Lunch at Trinity Episcopal Church, Nevada City…Everyone Welcome!

Sierra Roots serves the chronically homeless people of Nevada County, California, many of whom have been homeless for years & have severe disabilities such as mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and chronic health problems. These are among the most vulnerable people in our society and they are among the most costly to our community, requiring a disproportionate amont of public health and public health services.

Sierra Roots, in partnership with the public, philanthropic, non-profit & private sector stakeholders, adresses this urgent isue by improving the quality of life in the local community, and serving the chronically homeless & others in need.

NEWS & HAPPENINGS…

For information on our proposed Micro-Village project click to the webpage…>>>

Or download the complete PowerPoint Presentation of our Micro-Village project (3.8 Megabytes): Sierra Roots Micro-Village Proposal.

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A micro-house village in our city?

by Paul Halstead
January 17, 2015
Other Voices
The Union Newspaper

Can the communities of Nevada City/Grass Valley come together to support a micro-house village and new community center with a supported life skills program?

With a carefully planned and well-funded life skills program, a homeless person would be able to transition from a life of poverty and dependence, (a drain on public resources), to one that gives back to the community. Without combined support from local government, the private sector, and a coalition of nonprofit groups, there is virtually no hope of achieving such a proposed model. Funding would be through major private donations, grants, and multi-fundraising campaigns.

The design of the community center and micro-houses would need to be done in the most esthetically pleasing way, with sturdy, code compliant, construction and with the help of local designers, engineers, and architects. The village could be situated sensitively so as not to be visible to neighbors while still being close to essential services and public transportation.

The community center would have a commercial kitchen which would provide a daily meal. The building would be large enough to accommodate a much needed warming shelter during bad weather conditions. There would also be offices for social workers, a store for distributing clothing and supplies, personal lockers, bathrooms with showers, and a laundry room.

There are very few micro-housing models in the United States which give continuing support to homeless individuals so they can become productive citizens again. This support would come from local nonprofits, already working with the homeless, integrating more productively with Nevada County Social Services. The reality of the situation is that most people do not understand the root causes of homelessness. There is justified fear that the homeless will encroach on private property or cause problems in the community, such as crime, unsanitary camps, and fires.

There is also the fear that if you help a few, many more will come. Overcoming negative public perception and the stigma the homeless encounter are the biggest obstacles to a solution.

There is also the fear that if you help a few, many more will come. Overcoming negative public perception and the stigma the homeless encounter are the biggest obstacles to a solution.

If you want to help, the homeless the village concept is a great model. If you don’t want to help the homeless, but wish they were less of a nuisance, this is also a great model. Everyone wants to have a comprehensive solution. This is the comprehensive solution. Many people do not want to feel they are footing the bill for the homeless by helping them. What they do not realize is there are significant hidden costs to homelessness that consume taxpayer dollars. Doing nothing still costs too much.

Housing is treatment. It has been demonstrated that once a person secures housing, they are able to be safe, clean up, regain health, and focus on new goals. The housing-first scenario translates into less confrontation with police, fewer arrests, and fewer hospitalizations. The cost to society, of homelessness, runs $25,000-$45,000 per person per year, depending on the city. The state of Utah provided apartments for people and the cost went down to $15,000 per person per year.

With the establishment of a community resource center, villagers will have an address, access to a job board, computers and a phone. County social workers will be available to provide assistance in applying for SSI or SDI as many homeless are mentally and physically ill. Veterans, who have found themselves homeless after their service, will be assisted in applying for veteran’s benefits. Those people who do have funds will be required to pay an estimated one-third of their income in rent to the village. This will help defray ongoing operating costs. Others will work on site to earn their rent.

Everyone shares a desire to lead a sane, dignified and confident life. Participants in the village would be inspired to commit to a path of healing, personal transformation, and renewed service to the community. The village model would bring together disenfranchised people who are interested in healing body mind and spirit, but need a support system in order to accomplish this. Research gathered over the past three years is showing that cities which embrace housing first are cutting costs by as much as 60 percent.

Communities that have already committed to the village model have proven it has solved many problems, but more importantly, a sustained and supported village will help people get back on their feet with hope and renewed purpose.

Pauli Halstead lives in Nevada City, California.