Conceptualizing Prevention as the First Line of Offense Against Homelessness: Implications for the Federal Continuum of Care Modeledit
The federal continuum of care model does not adequately address prevention as the first line of offense against homelessness. As a result, people with acute housing needs are quickly channeled into emergency shelters, exposing them to the destructive cycle of homelessness. Emergency shelters provide an island of refuge, but remove many people from the social mainstream, weaken their capacity for self-help, and increase risk of long-term dependency. Our position emerges from interviews with people residing in the largest homeless shelter in Central Florida, feedback from a regional advisory committee of civic leaders and service providers, and consistencies with findings reported in the literature. The Community Prevention Model that we offer for discussion reinforces competencies and strengths, promotes independent living and social mainstreaming, and utilizes emergency shelters as a last resort.