Unsheltered Peoples Center (UPC)
The Vision of the Unsheltered People Center (UPC): This project is designed to advocate for the development of a one-stop drop-in center designed specifically for unsheltered individuals who are 25–65 years old. Homelessness is a global humanitarian crisis. As a result, people struggle to survive and provide for their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment. Helping connect unsheltered people to critical resources may help to mitigate the negative impacts of homelessness and restore individuals to healthier status. From 2000 until 2022 the Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) model was used to engage the community of San Bernardino to address homelessness. CBPR involves building rapport with community leaders and individuals, learning from organizations that provide services for the homeless, and directly engaging with community members, housed and unhoused, in order to obtain a broad perspective of the needs of the community. Pandey (1983), identified Social Stratification Theory as a model to better understand the challenges of poverty and homelessness. A second key theory to understanding homelessness is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which indicates that in order to achieve self-actualization, a series of foundational needs must first be achieved. The project uses medical anthropologist, Paul Farmer’s implementation of “accompaniment” to pair peer advocates with unsheltered partners to help them walk through each step. The peer advocate is trained in using Amador’s (2012) LEAP to partner and accompany the person until recovery from homelessness and a plan to address mental health is established. The program is evaluated based on the partner's individual recovery from homelessness and mental illness. This project uses the Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) funds to develop and support a one-stop drop-in center to empower unsheltered individuals in their recovery. The potential implications of a drop-in center like this are far-reaching: improving the situations of the unhoused increases their quality of life, could potentially reduce the financial burden of homelessness for local communities and increases the chances for long-term, sustainable recovery.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work