If we can get housing right, many of our social, medical and educational ills will fall into place. Mixing together often, community-by-community, is a strategy to stabilize families and neighborhoods by catalyzing resources to secure appropriate housing,
New Community Vision is launching a consulting cooperative to facilitate gatherings at which we educate about cooperatives by hosting Housing Mixers, community by community, month after month.
New Community Vision’s facilitated Housing Mixers are gatherings where people consider their various housing options, including many variations on sharing, and meet others doing the same. New Community Vision, in partnership with licensed social service professionals, screens and vets potential residents, homemakers, and households and maintains a clearing house of available housing and potential residents. NCV approved households will contract with a social worker who meets with the entire household for monthly communication tune ups to ensure that the household functions at as high a level as possible.
This concept hinges on the interlocking support of cooperatives working synergistically. New Community Vision would ideally be a worker-owned co-op of trained facilitators. To develop a workable approach to housing, New Community Vision needs to align with social workers, preferably a co-op. Organizing cooperatively lays a foundation that can be fine-tuned, implemented and brought to scale quickly anywhere in the country.
Federal and state budgets have been slashed leaving many social service agencies closed and social service professionals unemployed right when we need them the most. A co-op of licensed social workers could offer their services outside the bureaucracy of an overworked, underfunded state agency. Undoubtedly, those who have worked in the trenches – the housing counselors, social workers, domestic violence and child abuse counselors – know better than anyone the most effective way to serve their clients.
Social workers will cultivate a client base of households of their own choosing, with compensation worked out case-by-case. The vast number of skilled workers who have lost their jobs or retired early is an enormous pool of talent waiting to do something useful. A social workers co-op easily train any number of people to do intake over the phone for clients who don’t have internet access or prefer human interaction. A caller’s first contact with a knowledgeable person sets the expectation that a reputable organization understands the situation and is mobilizing resources to provide safe, secure housing.
Paying intake specialists to take calls by phone from home, with access to a central database of information, would be an efficient way to process the torrent of people needing housing. Paying by the number of participants enrolled, rather than by the hour removes the need to end the call quickly to take the next call. In this way, a human-to-human bond is established from the outset. Bringing the human element back to business is inherently cooperative and a welcome respite from the prevalent corporate attitude: “We don’t want to pay anyone to talk with you but please tell all of your friends and the entire internet how much you love us.”
In our skittish culture, having households that are vetted and approved lends a level of accountability, and ensures that the residents are known, accounted for and safe.
Like heals like. Because Housing Mixers take place community by community, affinity groups will naturally form. Hosting Mixers with challenged populations, such as veterans, the disabled and ex-offenders, hold the possibility for these groups to form households that offer the requisite stability to heal from within.
In summary, the vision for New Community Vision aspires to be a worker owned co-op of trained facilitators who convene and facilitate housing mixers and works in concert with a social workers co-op that supports people seeking secure, affordable housing.
Once the worker-owned co-ops and Housing Mixers are ticking along, Community Mixers are the logical spin off with many exciting and fun ideas to play with.