Homeless head home: give bums what they want.

Author:Mangu-Ward, Katherine
Position::Citings - Brief article

IN LONDON social workers are trying a novel approach to help people who are chronically homeless: asking them what they need to get off the streets, then giving it to them.

In the more familiar system, a rotating cast of government workers shows up where homeless people congregate and urges them to participate in programs, such as shelters and counseling, with strict rules or other intrusions into the clients' lives. In this welfare-reform experiment, by contrast, a single caseworker empowered with a fully discretionary budget offered participants a chance to meet where and when they desired and to ask for whatever they thought they needed to make a better life for themselves.

The pilot program, which involved people who had been homeless for four to 45 years, has demonstrated astonishing, if limited, success. Of 13 hardcore homeless participants--people who had previously resisted all inducements to move...

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