Permanent Supportive Housing is not only permanent, it’s also supportive. To us that means that we don’t just put someone in an apartment and leave them to fend for themselves, we try to bring to that person whatever resources he or she needs to succeed in life.
But we don’t force anybody, ever to do anything (except pay the rent and live up to the lease). Some people find this difficult to understand. They are used to a system that requires membership in a twelve-step program or a particular religious belief before you get help.
We don’t think that’s the way to go. The people we deal with are adults. You can’t force them to become better—only they can choose what they want to do. Studies show that people do better when they choose voluntarily to participate in programs. (http://documents.csh.org/documents/policy/FAQs/VoluntaryServicesFAQFINAL.pdf).
People value what they choose. It may seem surprising to some, but it works.
The services we will provide are going to be the services that people want. I’ve watched how Central Dallas Ministries operates for the past decade and CDM lets the people it serves, its neighbors, tell it what they need. If you don’t prejudge, if you listen with an open mind and don’t believe you know people’s lives better than they do themselves, then our neighbors will tell you how to serve them.
To start we will make available the services that CDM and its partners already offer. But we are going to make every effort to listen hard. If people want opera tickets, or sewing circles, or mental health services or a place to garden, then we will make every effort to meet that need.
But first we will listen.