Recent reports are showing an increase in the mentally ill and homeless population utilizing libraries as temporary shelters during the day when public traffic increases on the streets. As a result, many librarians question whether this pattern will cause frequent visitors (children, teachers, classes, families, individual, etc.) to avoid coming to the public libraries for fear of being assaulted or victimized, offended, or inconvenienced.
Sadly, libraries are safe havens, warm in the winter and cool in the summer when streets are dangerous, threatening, uncomfortable, and lonely.
If you find that you are facing a very similar dilemma with a loved one or friend, I encourage you to try the following:
- Check on your loved one: If you have a loved one who is suffering from a severe or untreated mental health problem or has been homeless in the past, check on them. Check to see if they are need of resources, support, or help.
- Learn about the Housing First program: The Housing First program was designed to:
“Focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits, [focus on] a variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis; and [focus on] a standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.”
- Look into HUD & other subsidy programs: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers resources for individuals experiencing homelessness. Housing assistance, housing counseling, food banks, supplemental income/food stamps, and government medical benefits can all be helpful for your loved one.
- Offer your support and resources: Offer to provide a roof until the individual can do better. If this is not an option, offer to help that person find help and tap into sources you know can help.
To read the 3 reasons why this issue is important for us, visit my 2nd site: Caregivers, Family, & Friends