You guys rock at reviewing my copy… can you please do it again?  Tell me if anything is unclear in this piece.  Did you read all the way through it, or skim?  Is it too long?  Did you want more information?  And especially tell me if it leaves you with positive or negative feelings about Nifty Agency.  Thank you!

A point of clarity– Nifty Agency serves only people with AIDS, a fact that is already known to anybody who would be reading the newsletter in question.

More points of clarity: this newsletter goes out to the friends and supporters of Nifty Agency.  The article is intended to explain the Housing First concept.





Housing First.  It’s a simple but powerful concept. 


If you live on the street, every aspect of your life suffers.  If you have no bathroom you can’t wash yourself.  If you have no kitchen you can’t store and cook nourishing food.  If you have no refrigerator you can’t keep perishable medications in usable condition.  


In the desperation of living without the security of a home, you may find it hard to make good, safe choices. 


The philosophy of Housing First asserts the basic human right to shelter, with no conditions attached.  A person who is ill, struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, or in need of counseling can deal with those problems only if their most basic needs are met first. 


King County is in the midst of an ambitious undertaking: The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.  Not reduce it.  Not make it invisible to tourists.  End it.


A huge Catch-22 stands in the way of housing for all.  Most programs that provide supportive housing services require clients to be clean and sober.  Yet often it is the people who are not clean and sober that need supportive housing the most.


Imagine you have a disease like AIDS or tuberculosis that must be treated with multiple doses of medicine every day.  Are you more likely to successfully adhere to your medication schedule while living in a safe, secure home, or while bouncing from shelter to shelter or sleeping on the street?


Similarly, treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is best undertaken while stably housed. 


Nifty Agency supports the Ten-Year Plan in concept and in deed.  Last year three quarters of the residents admitted to our program had lived on the streets.  We care for those that need us, even if they can’t pay.  Even if they’re mentally ill.  Even if they’re struggling with addiction.


In a safe, secure environment, health improves.  Home cooked meals bolster the immune system as well as the soul.  Caregivers ensure that medication is taken on time. 


A Housing First approach for people with AIDS serves the dual purpose of providing compassionate assistance for those in need and reducing the spread of the disease.  Studies show that individuals with homes engage in less risky behavior than those on the street.


Each year as winter approaches the critical nature of the housing crisis becomes clear.  We salute King County and numerous other communities across the United States that have taken on the challenge to end homelessness in ten years.  We at Nifty Agency are proud to do our part.



23 thoughts on “

  1. I’m big on brevity, but I think you’ve covered a complex issue in minimal space.  Positive–it answers the arguments people will have before they make them (and people will still make them, as you know 🙂  And I admire this program, by the way.
    Suggestion–in para 2, drop the “If you have no bathroom,” “If you have no kitchen,” etc, as they go without saying and it would have more impact.
    In the paragraph that begins “Nifty Agency supports…” is there anything, even general, you can add about last year’s success?  Even “The results were encouraging” or “exciting,” or something like that.
    Are you asking for anything–contributions, etc?
    Great writing, great program!

  2. I found myself confused about with all the titles: Homeless No More, Housing First, Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness and Nifty Agency. It was hard to figure out that it was an article to plug Nifty Agency because the agency information got lost amongst all the other philosophies and programs and ideas. Catch-22, because it was capitalized, added to the confusion. I think I might say “conundrum,” or maybe just leave off the first sentence of that paragraph. Start with “Most programs that provide supportive housing,” etcetera. It’s a powerful statement without the Catch-22.I think I would say, “without a bathroom, you can’t wash yourself. Without a kitchen, you can’t cook healthy food. Without a refrigerator, you can’t keep perishable medications at their proper temperature.”In the very first line, do you have to capitalize “First?” Is Housing First a movement of some kind? If so, I might mention Nifty Agency immediately as well. Like, “Housing First: a simple but powerful concept. Nifty Agency has adopted Housing First as its guiding principle.” Or, “Nifty Agency truly believes in Housing First.” Or, “Nifty Agency incorporates this philosophy in its mission.” Then I would put the definition of Housing First next…the paragraph about what the philosophy stands for…and after that, the two paragraphs about how your life suffers if you’re on the street. I would include the part about the Catch-22 in these paragraphs, before I mentioned the ambitious undertaking.After “stably housed,” (which I would change because I’m not crazy about ‘stably’) I would put in the part about the King County Ten-Year Plan, followed immediately by the part about Nifty Agency supporting the Ten-Year Plan. The paragraphs 3 and 2 from the end I would eliminate completely, as you’ve already made those points and it makes the article unnecessarily long and cluttered. I would keep the closing paragraph.

  3. I think I agree about droppin the “if you have no…” in paragraph 2.I also wonder about dropping the “Catch-22” sentence and just saying, Unfortunately, second sentence.In a quick read through, the second to last paragraph almost made it sound like the housing was specifically focusing on people with AIDS, perhaps b/c it is after the more general summation paragraph above it. Perhaps switching the order of the two?Sounds like a fantastic program!

  4. As far as the copy goes, I’m wondering if this article is meant to be an introduction to Housing First or to Nifty Agency.  If you’re writing it on behalf of Nifty Agency, I think it should be mentioned much earlier.
    Questions left unanswered for me:  What sort of housing is this?  Are we talking about shelters?  Dorm rooms?  Apartments?  Are the residents meant to be self-sufficient or is someone else doing the cooking?  How are people with mental illnesses cared for?  How are they brought in to begin with?
    Other questions:  Who pays for this?  Taxpayers, private donors, or both?  Do the homeless have to be residents of King County for a specified amount of time?   Will homeless people be streaming in from all over the country for free room and board?  

  5. I second (or is it third) dropping the literary reference.  I’m not sure that a Catch-22 can be “huge”, excepting maybe a large print edition (Big Blue Book).  I like “conundrum” or maybe a complete rework.  Something like “Unfortunately, those who struggle with addiction are often ineligible for available housing.” 
    And the King County paragraph seems out of place.  Maybe put it after the “Similarly” and before the “Nifty Agency” paragraph.
    But maybe you oughtn’t to take writing advice from a scientist…

    Very well written and to the point….!
    The only thing I would suggest is to simplify this sentence……”We care for those that need us, even if they can’t pay.  Even if they’re mentally ill.  Even if they’re struggling with addiction.”  ie  We care for those that need us, even if they can’t pay, are mentally ill or struggling with addiction.

  7. I like the “If you have no’s…” as they’re back up for the paragraph’s opening sentence.  As for Nifty Agency, I’m left with no opinion one way or the other, as they’re not the focus of the piece.  I assume that anyone reading it is already a supporter.  I’m inclined to be supporting the Housing First movement, however.  Good job !

  8. I thought this was a well written article, though at first I didn’t make the connection it was about Nifty.
    btw our city is embarking on a program to house and treat the homeless. The neighbors where it is going are wary of course.
    ryc: snakes around that quarry would be rattlesnakes and with all the water possibly water moccasins. Though I doubt anything but rattlers would be there.

  9. Ah. The clarifying points added a lot of clarification. :DIt never occurred to me it was a newsletter for Nifty Agency. It makes much more sense that way.I might still move around a few of the paragraphs and take out Catch-22, but otherwise, it sounds great. King County really has a county-wide, government plan to eliminate homelessness? I can’t even imagine such a thing here.

  10. Looks good to me. It made me want to know more. I finished it asking questions – who, how, funding etc Also, how to deal with people who take advantage of the situation, but don’t cooperate or break house rules? There’s a fine line between helping and enabling.

  11. RYC:  That’s exactly the semantic distinction I’m trying to make.  These two ideas can be understood in the context of evolution but they aren’t evidence of evolution.

  12. RYC:  Good point!  Sadly, they don’t happen very often, though, which is what wears an officer down.  Of course, “good” is in the eye of the beholder, but not in the opinion of the reckless driver you’re wrestling with 🙂

  13. Even though you’re not asking for contributions, I think you should end with something akin to what we in marketing call “a call to action.” What do you want people to do after reading this? Learn more? Volunteer? Just support you when things come later? There’s SOME reason you’re writing the article, even if it’s just laying groundwork for later requests. Just state it or ask it or provide a “click through” to somewhere else. That said, I like it and I vote for including the “If you have no…” phrases as thye have a nice rhythm and reinforce that when you’re homeless you don’t have so much of what we take for granted.

  14. I got it on my first pass through. I thought the King County paragraph was an appropriate nod to another agency in this scenario. Looks like you’ve been thoroughly edited, I offer no revisions, your honor.

  15. I concur w/ prairiecowboy.  (By way of intro–you stopped by my site a while back and I just happened to see a comment yu left on someone else’s site; remembered you and dropped by).  Anyway…we need a program like this in our area. You are so right many of those who need housing are not going to be clean and sober (or mentally fit). 

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