Rescued dogs and homelessness – it’s all in the budgeting August 25, 2012Posted by tackettmedia in Uncategorized.
Most of them are rescues – thrown away or ending up at a shelter for some reason or other. I generally cannot afford to take in strays because I do not want to bring an undiagnosed disease into the house.
Having a bunch of animals requires careful budgeting. Now, I am by no means a budgeting guru. I’m good with money and live within my means. I also have a good indication of what, in an ideal process, I would like to set aside for retirement, savings, necessities, etc.
However, as so many other people, I tell myself that I do not want to be shackled down by a budget. Unfortunately, in real life, that attitude will not get us far anymore.
Unless you are wealthy, you have to follow some form of a budget. In other words, even though I may cheat myself into thinking that I do not restrain my lifestyle by constant planning and worrying about money, in reality I do make sure I don’t spend more than I bring in and set some aside for later.
It is irresponsible, in my view, not to plan ahead and then blame the debtors for trying to collect what you promised them to begin with.
Having said that, I work in the field of homelessness. When people ask me what the cause of homelessness is, I give them the standard answer of – “There are many causes. But the number one underlying cause of homelessness is poverty – unless someone who has means is dealing with a mental health issues that does not allow him or her to access said means.”
In other words, I can be a drunk or drug addict when I have money and not be homeless. It eventually could lead there, but as long as I have money and choose to have a house, I won’t be homeless. In addition, how many of you know of people you suspect are alcoholics, but they have a job and function quite well during the day? And if you cannot think of anyone, then think of Elton John. He’s been addicted on pretty much anything and as far as I know, he’s had enough money throughout many of the years of his addictions that allowed him to stay housed and live in comfort.
I think about poverty and homelessness about 14-16 hours of my day (I sleep 6-8 hours a day and then I won’t think about it when I read a book or watch a movie). It is not right that in a developed country like the United States, there are people who are homeless.
I believe we can end chronic homelessness in this country (but that opinion will be examined in other blogs).
I believe that this country is wasting resources to manage homelessness and help people survive. This is a harsh statement, especially since I also believe that it is necessary to help people survive by feeding, clothing and sheltering them. Yet, a significant portion of the resources that we spend on homelessness needs to be diverted toward ending homelessness.
There are many models across the country that have shown success in ending chronic homelessness. We need to examine how we can expand these programs. Once we end homelessness, resources will be freed to go toward prevention.
While government funding is needed to help create momentum and keep momentum going, we will only achieve true results through outcome-focused public-private partnerships.
What does all that have to do with my rescued dogs?
It is easier for me to find a quick fix in rescuing a dog or other animal. It provides me with short-term satisfaction.
In the long-term, however, I am focused on doing my part in helping implement solutions to homelessness.
Both of these activities, I found, are based on cost analysis and careful budgeting, connected activities that focus on sustainability.
I cannot take home a dog and then not be able to care for him. The result would undoubtedly be that I would have to give him up again or euthanize him.
The same goes with ending homelessness. We cannot expect to create a lot of good programs without long-term planning on how we would like to sustain these programs and what our desired outcomes out to be.
Specifically, that means that we work together in partnerships where each partner has a stake and interest to hold the other partners accountable. In addition, while it is easy to plan without peer input, we won’t be successful unless we hear from individuals who are or have been homeless. We need to learn from people who have experienced homelessness about what is doable and what is realistic. These answers need to be sought out during our planning process. Are our expectations to high? What do we have to plan for to gain the expected outcomes?
I’ve been learning about homelessness issues for more than 10 years now and can tell you with my full conviction – in the end it is all about budgeting.
Outcomes and sustainability is what matters.
And to end this blog, I only want to mention one more thing. Too many people in the field of homelessness have confused outcomes with output.
I can easily provide 3,000 meals a year to feed the homeless – and it is a great contribution to helping people survive. I budget for that and I deliver. The resulting numbers will impress everyone who hears about them. This is an example of output.
However, what is the outcome? The outcome is that a certain amount of people have received 3,000 meals this year. Their bellies are full, but they are still homeless.