Why Yes Nashville, We are a Unique Snowflake

One of the deterrents of being awesome is to create a mental list of all the reasons our problems are unique and why we must suffer from them. The pay is too low, the housing is too high, the market is too tough, the people are too mean, the politicians too short-sighted, the agencies too self-serving, the poor too poor, the days are too long, and “you just don’t understand.”

What is understood? All of these same conditions and choices brought forth both an increase and decrease in homelessness and a massive increase of street-level living due to wavering commitments to proven practices in NYC, Denver, Atlanta, and Seattle.

You see, each city is absolutely unique. And each city is the same. So what are the solutions?

In 1818, the Society of Pauperism met in NYC. The solution was;

1st - Engagement. Go out and meet the people where they are,
2nd -  Equip. Meet the person, not the problem and determine their goals,
3rd – Empower. Help people achieve their goals.

There was a word of caution, if you make begging more productive than working then begging will increase. If you walk with people down the paths to employment and housing, then they will enjoy the journey to a higher quality of life. But that was 1818 NYC, right?

Last week, in Australia in an article titled, “Housing Ends Homelessness”, there is a call first for a change in the public will to get involved and then practical steps to engage, equip and empower.

1st - Engagement. Go out and meet the people. Research shows that treating people with dignity and respect at the moment of their first contact is critical to continue to connect with them and have the opportunity to stay in contact, shaping and influencing their experience. Conversely, a negative first contact makes it likely that they will be lost to the organization.
2nd -  Equip. If we can divert people experiencing homelessness away from the service-based cycle, where they return over and over to a series of programs, we take away so much cognitive overload of uncertainty. We should intentionally reduce the sludge of processes.
3rd – Empower. Coaching through the entire cycle of connection with clients, from first knock on the door to being settled, and involving partnerships with other organizations, homelessness (social displacement) can be ended.

For The Salvation Army to play its part in the process, we are committed to a balance of direct assistance, partnership, and advocacy.

Our responsibility is to take a historical review and a global view of what increases the quality of life of individuals and communities to determine what are the principles that can be transferred.

Our challenge is reducing practices that are part of our culture but increase homelessness.

Our commitment is to Fight for Good.
1st – Engagement.  Change the narrative to include the whole community’s solutions and go.
2nd – Equip. Meet the person, not the problem. Serve the person, stop punishing the population.
3rd - Empower. Love thy neighbor, living out The Salvation Army Christian Mission, walk the path to a shared higher quality of life.

As always, you are welcome to join us. 
Simply text me at (615) 933-9305. 
Let’s be unique, together.

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Major Ethan Frizzell serves as the Area Commander of The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has been serving in Middle TN since 1890. A graduate of Harvard Kennedy School, his focus is the syzygy of the community culture, the systems of service, and the lived experience of our neighbors. He uses creative abrasion to rub people just the wrong way so that an offense may cause interaction and then together we can create behaviorally designed solutions to nudge progress. Simply, negotiating the future for progress that he defines as Quality of Life in Jesus!

Misty Ratcliff