Homelessness continues to be a persistent problem in American society. Despite two decades of federal funding, statewide efforts, and local programs, a significant fragment of the general population consisting of unaccompanied persons and individuals remain homeless. The runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) of 2012 is one of the major policies that the government has established in its nationwide efforts against homelessness (Leonard et al., 2017). The Act caters to runaway and homeless youths by offering them temporary shelter and care. While such programs have achieved considerable outcomes in providing education, counseling, and clinical support, they do not fully cater to the needs of families and youths (Page, 2017). For instance, neither does the RHYA unravel critical issues relating to housing programs nor satisfy the needs of sex trafficked youths. In response to this deficit, the current policy alternative aims to advocate the establishment of a centralized landlord engagement program to help tenants create enduring and healthy rapport with property owners.
The proposed policy alternative’s core component involves the institution of a centralized landlord engagement program and community landlord engagement initiatives to create solid collaboration between communities, authorities, proprietors, and the homeless. In essence, a simple housing strategy, such as the one established on the RHYA, cannot end homelessness. This is because homelessness is linked to multiple social, economic, political, and administrative factors (Boland, & Cunningham, 2019; Hanratty, 2017). Therefore, communities need to merge affordable housing plans with collaborative efforts to pool resources and bring all implicated parties to an agreement. The centralized landlord engagement program fulfills this objective by creating partnerships between federal, state, and local organizations and market landlords. The main objectives consist of the creation of a centralized program and contact system for communicating with landlords, the launch of a housing search assistance plan, instigation of landlord mitigation funds, commencement of neutral mediation between tenants and landlords, and initiation of education programs.
For the current policy alternative to work, changes will need to occur at the local, state, and national levels. It is critical to engage communities along with their leaders and administrators of present housing programs at the local level. This may involve setting up events and campaigns to reach specific parties. Such initiatives may be extended to the state level to include housing firms, legislators, and leaders to perpetuate the agenda. A critical part of the policy alternative is to set up a centralized communication system. The communication system may be managed at the community, state, and national levels to provide enough room for flexibility and retain a sense of community within each region. Since numerous non-profits are assisting the public with housing searches, landlords are not always aware of the right agency to contact. This should be solved through the centralized phone number systems.
Moreover, there is a need to designate duties to specific teams. For instance, housing search assistance should be offered by a specific team of staff. Members of this team should not include house managers but rather parties that are entirely focused on cultivating housing opportunities. They may include people who are well versed in the real estate business as the task of house search necessitates some form of experience in the negotiation of leases, participation in unit inspections, and payment of move-in rental costs. Much of the funding should be managed at the state and federal levels due to the intricate nature of finances. Finance administration may be extended to the local level in accordance with community needs and obligations. For instance, landlord mitigation funds can be dispensed at the national level and allotted to specific communities that need them with the help of local authorities and community leaders. Mediation and education programs are better dealt with at local levels to attend to landlords and clients’ needs.
The establishment of a centralized landlord engagement program is well consistent with social work values. Social workers’ main goal is to provide exemplary service to the public by helping destitute persons and addressing various social problems. The current program seeks to fulfill this value. Social workers involved in the promotion of the present policy change will elevate public service above their self-interests for it to be successful. Furthermore, the present policy advocacy considers aspects of social justice, values of compassion and integrity, and human relationships (Hebenstreit, 2017). Social workers are obliged to recognize human relationships with primary importance and understand that relationships between people are critical vehicles of equity, change, and advocacy. The collaboration between social workers, house owners, communities, and the homeless will cultivate the integration of marginalized homeless youth and families.
The present policy change is feasible from political, economic, and administrative perspectives. Nevertheless, its implementation requires rigorous application of advocacy skills. From a political standpoint, now is the right time to promote the habilitation and protection of homeless communities. Not only do politicians and leaders recognize the rising prevalence of homelessness in major cities across the U.S. but they also acknowledge the significant repercussions it has caused within the last three decades. From an economic viewpoint, homelessness has caused metropolitans substantial costs, both in terms of management costs and loss of economic potential (Steen, 2018). When people are left homeless, they become more vulnerable to health and substance abuse issues, violent behavior, and eventual incarceration (Snow, Goldberg, Villalta, & Bernatzky, 2017). Hence, the rehabilitation of homeless communities offers more benefits from an economic standpoint. Not only can restored communities embark on economic work, but they can also take care of their own health. Legislators and administrative bodies are well aware of the persisting problem of homelessness.
While the establishment of a centralized landlord engagement program promises momentous benefits for homeless communities and society at large, it faces some opposing forces. For instance, it may be hard to create buy-in on the landlords’ part because their priority is to make profits. Hence, they are unlikely to settle for programs that compromise their ability to make profits or retain independent control of their properties. Additionally, there are varied perspectives about homelessness. Some people view homelessness as self-inflicted. Although this is undoubtedly true in exceptional cases, it is essential to provide community support. Still, people who hold such views are unlikely to support a centralized landlord engagement program. Another striking force that may act against the proposed policy is resistance to change. The transformation of societal norms is not a straightforward process. Change needs substantial effort from the advocating parties and collaboration on a massive scale. Besides, advocacy is not always a straightforward feat (McNutt, 2011). Social workers need to use skills. Research skills are particularly helpful in collecting baseline data to understand community needs (Sherraden, Slosar, & Sherraden, 2020). Other essential skills needed to change mindsets and initiate the much-needed change include empathy, critical thinking, active listening, and communication.
The creation of a centralized landlord engagement program influences clinical social work practice with clients positively. To begin with, a housing program that involves landlords facilitates easy tracking and mapping to identify clients and their health profiles. Not only will it be easier for social workers to reach clients, it will also be simpler to provide home-based care and services to individual clients. Some adjustments may be required to cater to clients depending on their profiles. For instance, children, families, and people with substance abuse issues may need specialized services in order to alleviate their conditions as fast as possible. No matter the case, involved social workers should abide by their code of conduct. They should uphold clients’ respect and refrain from discriminating against clients based on age, race, gender, family, and social status. The first task that a social worker should do is assess a client’s situation and feasibly diagnose any health problem they may have. Next, they should help them develop goals and plan to help them improve their situation through constant monitoring and conscious case management.
In conclusion, the current policy alternative aims to advocate the establishment of a centralized landlord engagement program to help tenants create enduring and healthy rapport with property owners. The core component of the proposed policy alternative involves the institution of a centralized landlord engagement program and community landlord engagement initiatives to create solid collaboration between communities, authorities, proprietors, and the homeless. The main objectives consist of the creation of a centralized program and contact system for communicating with landlords, the launch of a housing search assistance plan, instigation of landlord mitigation funds, commencement of neutral mediation between tenants and landlords, and initiation of education programs.