Our focus in Episode Three will be on homelessness and the financial and psychological benefits of creating homogeneous communities. We’re going to drill down into the diversity of populations and the immense benefits that could be created by creating largely individual communities that are psychologically beneficial, reduce costs associated with caring for the homeless, and maximize the efficiency in doing so. Even in our general society, the feeling of not belonging can be a source of overwhelming suffering for a large percentage of our population. We can only imagine how much deeper that is in homeless communities, and how alone they feel; they don’t feel a sense of community and its support.
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast
The missing conversation, episode three, on this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking. As we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view, your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist author and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation and inquiry born from working on his own challenges,
Robert Strock: (00:44)
A warm welcome for joining us at the missing conversation today, we’re continuing to explore deeper aspects of a practical and comprehensive solution to homelessness. Today. Our focus will be on homelessness, the financial and psychological benefits of creating homogeneous communities. Now, when I say homogeneous communities like single women, families, that’s individuals facing addiction issues recently released from incarceration to name a few. I don’t mean we’re suggesting rigidly creating segregated communities, but simply optimizing a sense in each community that will take advantage of feeling safe, creating the best chance of belonging and feeling at home and enough similarity of needs to allow for the maximum cost efficiency with the services that are provided. I’d like to introduce my closest friend, Dave, who’s been a immense partner in the global bridge foundation and virtually every aspect of my life for the last 50 years. And, uh, so thanks Dave for joining us.
Dave Knapp: (02:03)
Good to be here. Uh, the series of podcasts and sharings about homelessness are so important. Uh, your passion here touches me deeply and, uh, let’s, let’s dive into the next episode.
Robert Strock: (02:19)
So I’d like to really ask you who are the listeners to really do your best to participate in this while we’re talking and not to hear it as an outside thing, but to realize we’re all interacting with the homeless. And I know that we all want to find some way to include them in a situation where they have a chance to survive and thrive, homelessness, financial, and psychological benefits of creating dominantly homogeneous communities. In this episode, we’re really going to drill down into the diversity of populations and the immense benefits that could be created by creating largely individual communities that are both psychologically beneficial, but also reduce costs and maximize efficiency. When you think about the vast elements and people that are comprised the homeless community, there’s no way to clone it. As of them, that’s kind of a dis and not really looking at the incredible uniqueness that comprises the community. So as you listen to these podcasts, I really like you to see yourself as a co-creator and join in the brainstorming of solutions. And we’re going to be presenting you a pretty well thought out and comprehensive plan, but it truly, isn’t intended to be a fixed answer. That’ll apply to every locale. That’s going to require a lot of individual contemplation with significant groups, no matter where you find yourself.
Robert Strock: (04:12)
And as you’ll see, there are so many nuances, so many differences from place to place that are really too big and too subtle to think that any one plan could fit the by wide variety of situations that are going to be needed to take into consideration. But we’re really hoping to set out the key elements and principles that can be moderated or activated. So your ideas can be sent to me at, robertstrock.org to try to really participate in the conversation. We’re seeing this as being a starting point. In some cases it may work as is, but dominantly a collaboration between you, the listeners, and what we’re presenting
Dave Knapp: (05:12)
Robert, as you envision the variety of populations, the, the, the numbers of people in each area and the, the missing conversations about who they are, the missing conversations about, uh, if there’s a general view that incorporates all of them, but yet at the same time has to address them individually. How do you see that?
Robert Strock: (05:36)
I think the key element is really understanding the importance of belonging. So the communities need to be really looking at that psychological element of what’s going to give the individuals the sense that, Oh, I finally found a home where I could stay forever, or if I’m able to develop myself and I have the motivation to go back into the world, I can do that. And there’s a feeling of safety so that you’re not mixing, for example, people that are having serious mental illness with single women, which would never mix safely because they would feel insecure. So we’re going to be identifying several separate populations. And in some cases they would do very well on their own because they’d have the same stories, the same wounds, the same struggles, the same fears, and we’d be highlighting the chance for each of the populations to feel at home.
Dave Knapp: (06:56)
Does that mean that they’re together and segregated from each other, separated from each other? How do they interact with each other? How does it, how can it work? How can it, how can the economics work if that’s true? And is that true? And how you see this going down,
Robert Strock: (07:17)
The individuals would all have their own separate mini home or trailer, um, mobile home, but they would also have the freedom to interact. And it’s going to be a very intuitive experimental situation as to whether you also include other communities. But one of the key things that I think those of us that are fortunate enough to have our individual housing identify with is it’s wonderful to have your own space. And it’s wonderful to have an opportunity actually, that many of us don’t really have, which is a community space too. So you’d have the best of both worlds where autonomy is respected and the need to have contact. And that contact could be with eating. It could be social, it could be psychological, it could be fun and entertainment. It could be any number of ways of interfacing.
Dave Knapp: (08:23)
And as we envisioned that very thing, and I think that’s also important, the, especially the intuitive connectivity between the groups, we’re in a time of a pandemic of COVID. And as this has implemented over time, and this may say, this may take enough time where maybe COVID hopefully will not be an issue, but to the extent it is, does that affect the plan?
Robert Strock: (08:52)
People that are need to have protection from COVID people that are displaced from their work from COVID they’re part of the communities that they will interact with the many other communities that we’re talking about and identifying. And it’s very important that it’s not seen, like we’re putting, uh, blacks and whites and segregating. This is actually the exact opposite of segregation. This is optimal integration, looking at it through a psychological lens. You know, it would be pretty easy to understand, Oh, you’re saying that women can’t be with people that have drug addiction problems. And the answer to that is not necessarily, there might be people that are wrestling with drug addiction problems that could possibly be safe enough in their appearance and in their lifestyle to be allowing the women to feel safe. So we’re identifying these separate communities to honor them, to see the possibilities of that uniqueness, of being able to just psychologically and vocationally develop. And at the same time optimize who could merge with each other and still feel safe.
Dave Knapp: (10:15)
And many, many years ago, it’s, uh, embarrassingly long going on 50 years ago, you and I were involved in a place that still exists in a different form, but nonetheless still exists called Beverly Wood. And I remember at that time it was within maybe a year or two after then governor Reagan basically shut down the funding for mental health, just as one example of one of the communities you’re looking to address. And they were on the street and there, it was at the beginning. Eventually the problem was to some degree solved. There was no funding for them to stay anywhere. And they were added to the population on the street. I can even recall as they were fortunate enough because we were a place where they could come if they qualified. And I remember them preparing for their periodic evaluations by the state government, by going off their meds so that they would be seen as bad off enough in their condition, that they would continue to qualify for a place to stay and not be turned out on the street. So this has been going on for awhile. And I think that formative experience for me at least was touched, touched me in a way as I look back on it, through what you’re describing now is maybe my first experience of the fear of being homeless.
Robert Strock: (11:50)
Yeah. Just dating ourselves back to 1972 and our starting point, the putting together of that community, which we called members instead of patients, even though we actually were dealing with the hardest core, actually not the hardest core, the medium core schizophrenia population, that was part of the criteria for being in our facility. And they were absolutely the dumping ground from the Reagan administration, sending people off into the streets as if they really had a chance. And they are one of the major three groups. You know, you mentioned there were a group that really included drug addiction, alcohol addiction, uh, serious mental health illness, and schizophrenia. They had all four of those elements as part of that population that were just dumped into the streets. So what we’re really talking about is this program or offshoots of this program, being ones that are going to incorporate a wide variety of groups, that in addition to those four, it’s going to include single mothers, families, veterans under an unemployed people that are on SSI and, and the COVID people that you’re talking about.
Robert Strock: (13:09)
And it’s one of the great fantasies or hopefully realities is that of the 20% of the homeless population, approximately that are on SSI. If the government saw fit to qualify people for SSI, if they were willing to give their best efforts, if they wanted to expand their life. And they started to see, gee communities are being set up that are going to give me this opportunity. And I will be given the approximately a thousand dollars a month that these communities could be potentially self-sufficient with that thousand dollars being used toward housing and food and programming. And that’s not even counting what they could contribute themselves.
Dave Knapp: (14:02)
So as you talk about that, and you talk about it becoming self-sufficient and the potential you talked about earlier, for some overlaps, some even synergy between the populations yet, some of these are fairly unique. Some of these are, as you pointed out that this is about as homogeneous populations, uh, where would that apply and how would that be a benefit to these people?
Robert Strock: (14:33)
All I can really do is talk around it because the subtleties will be disagreed with, by no matter which person is making the discrimination. But my best approximate guess is that safety and comradery needs to be really looked at carefully in a sense of belonging and a sense that this could be a community that I could potentially want to live in permanently, or I might want to use as a transition to really develop my skills, the elements of belonging can’t be overemphasized, even in our general society, the feeling of not belonging is an overwhelming suffering for a large percentage of our population can only imagine how much deeper that is in the, in the homeless communities and how much they feel alone rather than a sense of community support and rightfully so. And it would be such a potential reduction in loneliness, human connection, having fun, having security, not having to worry about, Oh my God, where am I going to find a place to potentially be dry and get food? And to have that relaxation on top of opportunities to develop is something that we’re really trying to enter more deeply into that conversation.
Dave Knapp: (16:04)
And as you speak, uh, a word came to mind, it comes of course back from that, that experience 50 years ago. But as I, as I’m looking at the, the kinds of populations here and I’m thinking, okay, we’re in a pandemic, we’re, we’re, we’re with people that are experiencing a recession, they’ve lost, their jobs are under underemployed. And the word halfway house comes to mind, which is really a transitional possibility you come, you’re there. You’re seeing through a very difficult time, in many cases, as we have with schizophrenia, maybe that’s a lifelong coping, but in many cases it’s an economic situation. That could be a transition. And so how do you see these people coming and going and moving through the facilities that can be created?
Robert Strock: (17:00)
Uh, it’s a critical defining point of what’s being proposed, which is, it’s definitely an ‘and.’ This is an offering that if your highest potential and your personal desire is to really live a simple lifestyle, do the best you can not just be given away. You’re still going to be asked to do what you can do, but if you prefer to get out of the hustle bustle of having to be successful in traditional terms, and instead you see, Hey, I want to have my 8 buddies that are living 300 feet away from me, and I can get together and share with them and I’ll do whatever I can to do my maximum work. Then it could be a permanent solution. On the other hand, if you’re someone that has skills and are not burdened with severe PTSD or severe mental illness, then of course, it’s going to be an optimal situation to train you and guide you and give you the encouragement, psychological support to go out there and fulfill your dream.
Dave Knapp: (18:06)
Again, it seems so clear as you say that. And so obvious that something like this one would think would already have been happening. Why isn’t it? Why are these missing conversations, missing solutions, pervasive and persistent,
Robert Strock: (18:28)
The cognitive confusion on the part of people that have the potential to influence this being led by they aren’t motivated. They are a burden and you notice the word, they it’s a very derogatory word. It’s like they have cooties or worse than cooties. They’re deficient. They’re defective that the rationalization and the disidentification is so severe. And at the same time, the haves have such an identification with having that, this grown a callous disregard unwittingly. It’s not that people aren’t good people. They’re more distracted. It’s like, they’re, they’re involved in their own fun. They’re in, they’re involved in their own vacation when it’s not COVID time. And so what needs to happen is this cognitive confusion needs to be led to everyone is our brother and sister. If I recognize I could be anyone, of course, I want to be given a chance and an opportunity to survive and thrive.
Dave Knapp: (19:41)
So in our society now, where do these, these, where did these people get their needs addressed? Are there any things available that promote at least in their own separate ways elements of, of what this is going to do when it all comes together?
Robert Strock: (20:03)
I mean, there are a lot of facilities. There, there are shelters, there are programs that are, or even dealing with permanent housing that people concern in Los Angeles is let’s say the largest one that I know of that has in the thousands of supporting people with a similar kind of permanent housing. And there’s a program called community first in Austin, Texas, that’s on the outskirts, a very similar kind of idea. As a matter of fact, it’s a, it’s a worthy story to mention that a bit that the community after it had 150 of the now 300 people got a phone call from a number of people saying, listen, I’m living in a trailer and I’m not homeless, but I really miss community. Can I come? And now years later, 30 to 50 of the people that are residents, there are people that are loving the sense of community. They’re thriving. Not, not even necessarily more economically, or maybe they are, but they’re not wanting to leave because they feel for the first time they have a place called home.
Dave Knapp: (21:10)
Now I know as you described earlier, there are well-thought through and, and ideas being presented. And I know on your website, robertstrock.org, you have a series of papers that will express and more in a more fulsome and wholesome way, not wholesome, but a fuller way. What we’re talking about here. Um, what can we expect from those?
Robert Strock: (21:40)
Well, I appreciate you corrected yourself with a terrible era of saying not wholesome, but, um, I really appreciate that. Um, there are a few organizations that are worth highlighting. That’ll give a glimpse of what we’re going to be coming up with in the future. There’s an organization called grid alternatives. That that basically is a foundation where their purpose is to help people that are disadvantaged to install solar panels. And so in the presumption that tiny homes or used solar panels could be installed by the people that are capable of doing that in each of the communities. And not only will it create the benefit of no cost energy in that regard, but it also will teach a skill. And they’re able to bring that to a field that can go to community rooms. And there’s even the possibility in some communities of selling the excess energy to the, the energy companies.
Robert Strock: (22:45)
There’s also another organization called every table, which is absolutely extraordinary to 15,000 square foot kitchen in central LA. They’re already serving the homeless and they’re onboard to join this program in a way that would be very cost-efficient 20 very wholesome meals and be able to have healthy meals, be given to the variety of communities. And then there’s a third one that I’ll just mention the Marina airport counseling center, where they’re set up very much, like what you mentioned earlier that we did in the early seventies to have a broad spectrum series of master’s interns and, and, and various individuals who have graduated from the master’s program, getting their hours for their license and volunteering to support people that, that are having difficulties. And the supervisors are getting paid $38 an hour. So if you add the efficiency of how many people they could support for such an economical cost and really reinforcing the sense of connection, belonging, optimizing your best efforts, it’s just inspiring. And I’m glad you’re bringing it up.
Dave Knapp: (24:10)
The economic aspects of all of those things at the self-sufficient part of it, the support part of it. And I think also one of the missing conversations that is so crucial, especially for people of means, and especially for felons philanthropy for government is the economic benefit, the cost savings of actually setting something up for people that apparently right now appear like they’re draining our resources, our pain, but yet it’s cheaper to do something about it as opposed to nothing.
Robert Strock: (24:48)
Yeah. If we could slow down our minds enough, which has not an easy thing, and we would hold on our right hand, the homeless community and communities and see the costs that are actually being incurred. You know, the emergency rooms, the extra police, the theft, the alienation, the reinforcing of gangs, all kinds of different, difficult situations. And then the left hand, you see that if the government were willing to put people on SSI, when they were qualified by professionals, that thousand dollars a month would have us gaining money, and then you add the other elements to it. And it’s just horrifying to think that we haven’t already done it. And as others continue to tweak to their locale, it’s utterly affordable. Now, if we don’t use traditional housing and traditional methods,
Dave Knapp: (25:50)
And I’ll, I’ll add a personal touch, uh, my son’s a firefighter. I can’t tell you how many times, uh, he comes. He comes home frustrated by the number of calls. The number of times his crew is called out for a small fire in the LA river, which is of course a con most places, a concrete river, where many people who are homeless sleep and they want to stay warm, they will start a fire, uh, that fire often will get beyond what they intended it to be. And the resources of the community are largely used to deal with those things and allocated towards the homeless.
Robert Strock: (26:37)
And that’s probably one great example of things beyond our comprehension that we really can’t even understand how many hidden costs there are. So really asking you the listener to really let in how beneficial this could not only be for the homeless community, but how beneficial it could be for all of us. And to be able to use our intelligence, our resources, our brainstorming, our connections, to be able to create something that could be of benefit for all of us. And we’ll be in the next episodes, really filling in the details of all the elements that we see that are important to really give everybody a best chance of being the best self. And I’m sure that you are, are, as you’re listening are thinking, well, God, of course I would want that no matter where I was born. So I really extend a deep seated wish for you to reach out to me at robertstrock.org. And if you have people that are connected to homeless programs or philanthropies or people that are in government, please reach out because this is going to take, I would say hundreds of people to really pull off into change a very well entrenched system. Thank you very much.
Join The Conversation
If The Missing Conversation sounds like a podcast that would be inspiring to you and touches key elements of your heart, please click subscribe and begin listening to our show. If you love the podcast, the best way to help spread the word is to rate and review the show. This helps other listeners, like you, find this podcast. We’re deeply grateful you’re here and that we have found each other. Our wish is that this is just the beginning.
We invite you to learn more about The Global Bridge Foundation—an organization collaborating to heal communities and the world at TheGlobalBridge.org