‘You Can’t Reach Those Higher Levels Of Development Without Housing,’ Says Advocate For The Homeless

Homelessness has become a polarizing social issue across the U.S. Some insist that the main underlying causes of homelessness are poverty and the lack of affordable housing, while others claim that mental illness and addiction are the root of the problem. “What we need to do, is to address mental health. And the best way to address mental health – to prevent homelessness – is to address it in the public schools,” says Mark Powell, a former vice president of the San Diego County Board of Education. He claims that students with untreated mental health conditions are at higher risk of becoming homeless adults with mental health conditions who may turn to self-medicating. Paul Boden, Organizing Director for the Western Regional Advocacy Project in San Francisco, agrees. He says, “Community-based treatment programs for people with severe mental illness that are poor never got fully funded.” While preventative measures are important, Sarah Rankin, Founder and Director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP) at the Korematsu Center for Law & Equality at the Seattle University School of Law. She says it’s vital to address the needs of people who are currently unhoused and work to get them into homes. “We’re not talking about housing only – it’s housing first,” says Rankin in the video above. “You can’t reach those higher levels of development without housing.” Part one of this two-part Dr. Phil, “Homelessness in America,” airs Thursday. Then, on Friday’s conclusion, “Homelessness in America: Is There a Solution?,” Dr. Phil talks with a couple who went from residing in a condo in the suburbs to living in an R.V. park with their four children. Check your local listing for airtimes. WATCH: Addiction, Mental Illness Not Primary Causes Of Homelessness Says National Coalition For The Homeless Exec TELL DR. PHIL YOUR STORY: Have a story in the news?