To reclaim a future and restore hope, vulnerable people need a safe, secure, inclusive environment with neighbors they know, who understand them, and who will provide support; they also need opportunities to play indispensable roles in the lives of others.
Vulnerable people experience multiple challenges that may include substance abuse, mental illness and emotional disorders, teenage pregnancy and parenting, or living much of their life in a neighborhood where they have been exposed to a culture of violence and vigilance. Far too often they are disconnected from (or lack) a strong supportive family and community.
The result is that vulnerable people frequently experience sustained forms of disadvantage, hardship, and loneliness as well as little if any sense of safety and security. The outcome can be life-long adverse consequences that threaten their well-being and lead to high psychosocial and economic costs.
Conventional services are not enough
Typical social service interventions work to provide a “safety net.” This term generally refers to four categories of assistance: food, income, housing subsidies, and health. Providing this assistance is largely agency-driven and relies on professional expertise to be effective. It rarely involves drawing upon the transformative power of family, friends, and neighbors.
The purpose of a GHC is deceptively simple: neighbors, including a large number of older adults and vulnerable residents provide indispensable friendship and support to each other. By embedding all residents in a web of kindness and support on which they can depend, GHCs do what social services alone cannot – create a daily environment of care, connection, and continuity.
Ultimately, it is caring relationships that will reestablish hope – that will allow vulnerable people to envision a future where they will not have to ask, as a child in the juvenile justice system once did: Who do you turn to when you can’t count on yourself and have learned through experience you can’t count on anyone else?