a partnership of licensed contractors, charitable
investment and State government, we can create a trial
program at relatively low cost to train carefully
screened homeless men and women as construction workers,
home renovation specialists, pest control specialists
and remediation experts for environmental hazards.
Initially the program should target individuals without
families, but as the program grows, homeless families
could be brought into the program as well.
the program, vacant houses would be purchased at low-cost,
or properties already owned by local jurisdictions
could be utilized. A small renovation team would be
created and moved into one property, with the task
of renovating a nearby property. Work would be supervised
by a licensed contractor, who would be given a small
financial incentive, but would be also asked to volunteer
some of their own time. Participating contractors
would be given liability protection, plus additional
incentives, such as an opportunity to bid at an advantage
on other properties that they could renovate as a
completely private enterprise.
hired through the program would be paid minimum wage,
plus be given a free place to live. Their home would
change from time to time, as they move from house
to house when they move on to the next renovation
project. The renovation of each house would be thorough.
Houses would undergo sufficient lead abatement to
be certified lead-free, so we can gradually work towards
eliminating the problems associated with lead contamination.
The property involved, along with the surrounding
area, would be subject to pest control, to eliminate
rats and stray animals from the area. Workers would
also be given some neighborhood watch responsibilities,
to improve the overall quality of the neighborhood
the renovation work is completed on a property, the
houses could be sold at a profit, and the profits
could be put back into the program, so that more homeless
people could be hired. As the program grows, we would
be working towards eliminating homelessness, we would
be turning around deteriorating and declining neighborhoods,
we would be adding to the tax base through individual
tax revenue and we would be decreasing the expense
of social programs.
should be a minimum standard of living in the city
and state, even for the worst of the hard luck cases.
No one in Maryland, or even in America, should be
living in a cardboard box on a street corner. No one
should have to move into a shelter where they fear
for their safety. People need an established address
when they are looking for a job, and one that can't
be identified as a place where homeless people go.
doesn't have to be a big place. IKEA for a time had
a display with a complete living space in 100 square
feet, and apparently a comfortable living space. The
bed folded up during the day, to allow for a living
area, and the space had a kitchenette and a bathroom
with a shower. A potential design is shown to the
left. This unit would be 7 feet x 16 feet (112 square
feet). The bathroom would have a pocket door, so that
it wouldn't hit the main door. There would also be
a small linen closet in the bathroom. The kitchen
counter would have a microwave and/or a two-burner
stove, along with a small sink. The bed would have
storage underneath, and would double as a sofa with
cushions that would be stored above at night. Slightly
larger units could be designed for families.
units would be contained in two or three story buildings,
with six to twelve units per building. They would
be constructed with green technology to minimize utility
costs. The funding would come from a combination of
state funds and charitable donations, with an appeal
to the federal government for funding for a pilot
program. The buildings would be located in proximity
to work centers, designed to teach residents to become
self-sufficient, after which they could pay rent for
the units in which they are living. The program would
be designed to become self-sustaining.