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More with Dignity Moves' Jeff Gaddess: Interim supportive housing, strategies for success, and systemic dynamics

Greenwell:

With 91.9 KVCR News, I'm Jessica Greenwell. Today I continue my conversation with Jeff Gaddess, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships with Dignity Moves, an organization that develops scalable interim supportive housing, and works with a variety of partners in a multidisciplinary approach to address the housing and homelessness crises. And Jeff, we spoke about Proposition 1, what it means and what your hopes are for this legislation. We also touched on barriers to care, utilizing existing resources and how to best address these complex challenges.

Gaddess:

So, we're truly trying to accelerate from a triage perspective. Let's get people off the streets while they're waiting, get them stabilized, give them the help. They can be there six-months to a year, possibly longer, depending on their needs. And then we can transition that into more permanent housing and or places that they may need, you know, more help; residential treatment, skilled nursing facilities, whatever that looks like. We're able to be a funnel for them to get to the places that meets their particular need, right? But we're able to do that assessment in the spaces that we're helping build out. That's my background, I ran residential treatment shelters, sobering centers, outreach teams; I've been studying this, my doctorate focused on this stuff. But I really focus on the allocation of resources and the implementation of programs and treatment that meet a person where they're at, based on the fundamental piece on trust building.

Greenwell:

And Jeff, we met earlier this year at the site of an existing men's shelter on G Street in the city of San Bernardino, run by Lutheran Social Services, that's being expanded to the new San Bernardino Community Wellness Campus. $35 million in Homekey grant funding was awarded for this project. And it will allow for the construction of 140 modular housing units, and on-site health clinic, behavioral health treatment, job training and placement, and rehabilitation services. What else is important to you about how these sites are run?

Gaddess:

Lutheran Social Services, they run residential steward models; meaning people with lived experiences work on the sites and are able to build trust, because they know what it means to go through what the people that are living and coming out of the sites are going through. That's a fundamental other shift that I'm really an advocate of, along with others, are building out these sites to have people with lived experience who are in recovery or stable, turn around, they get certified to do this. And they turn around and start helping the people that went through that as a part of their own healing and recovery. And that's, that's a big impact. Now that's going to create real scalability for us in terms of when people tell me about, well, we don't have enough staffing. It's like, well, yeah, that's because we need to lean in on bringing the people who've been through it. Because again, the mantra, it takes one to know one. I had to go through this, I get it. I get you where you're at, there's no shame. We're here in this together, stripping the punishment and the shame out of this; destigmatizing substance use is my focus too. Getting people to see the human being that's using. The culture and the systems that are creating these conditions of homelessness. What we have done is, we really laid all of this on people experiencing homelessness. We've got to look at the systemic aspects of how we got here. And while we're building the sites and stabilizing the sites, we're also advocating for how do we shift us, you know? What is the what is the transformation in us as a culture? What is the recovery that we need to go through as a system and a culture to stop these conditions, or slow this churn down and people just being sent out onto the streets? I'm talking to people from all demographic backgrounds, right? From all socio-economic classes. And there's not one person that I've talked to that that is not concerned about the conditions of our country and worried about their own communities and what they're seeing on the streets of their own communities. And I know there's a lot of division in this culture right now. But I think we've got to find some places that are apolitical in that sense that people are on the streets, dying and really struggling. And we got to coalesce our humanity and our compassion around that. And start to understand that there are real conditions in place that are causing these numbers to rise in our homeless populations. So, Dignity Moves, again, we're the developer, but we're even more than the developer. We're really here as advocates for systemic change and transformation in the way that we're looking at this field. And this work, bringing the private and nonprofit sector together, researchers together, to look at these issues and build a case and tell the story of what we can do to change these dynamics.

Greenwell:

Yeah, the experience that you know, all of you have collectively; I appreciate the fact that you're giving the credit and not just welcoming, but encouraging all of these hardworking individuals that have been in the field for a long time that are burnt out, but they still have heart and hitting it even harder.

Gaddess:

There are extraordinary professionals out there in the field that are working at the highest level at the highest levels of competency and I just want the community to know that in each one of these communities, there are just there are warriors out there, that will do the work for people on the streets, but not just people on the streets, for the community itself. And we need to raise them up and build spaces for them to be able to do the work, re-energize the existing workforce, revitalize the system of care that's out there. Because we have the people out there, we have infrastructure in place, we just need to, again, get in there and reinforce what's working, and build out around that and really focus on the need. This is a time for intense focus, and advocacy. You know, I mean, a bunch of us are fighter pilots. That's how I see myself. I have to stay so focused on this issue, and not distracted by all the divisions and all that stuff. Because this this is a life and death situation. There's just no doubt about it. And it's gonna take that level of care, focus, intelligence, and openness to change, and willingness to look at the things that we’re, the conditions that we're creating, that are contributing to these factors. And do that in a way that doesn't damn us, but really helps us build a better future. So, I'm just so grateful for you, giving me the opportunity to speak into the space and just the ongoing conversations that we're having. I'm really honored to do this work; and do it on behalf of not only Dignity Moves, but all the communities that invite me, and us in, to really tackle these issues.

Greenwell:

And thank you as well Jeff. I've been speaking with Jeff Gaddess, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships with Dignity Moves. For 91.9 KVCR News, I'm Jessica Greenwell.

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