Helping Homeless Requires First Speaking Their Language

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On any given night, 643,000 homeless Americans reside in shelters or sleep on the streets. Jay S. Levy’s new book reveals how helping them requires speaking their language, understanding their situations, and implementing effective programs.

Jay S. Levy

Levy provides a developmental model of how to engage with the homeless, striving to understand the language and culture of each individual to build a bridge to mainstream services.

No one wants to see anyone be homeless, yet many myths about the homeless keep people from reaching out, and many programs fail to be as effective as they could be. Social worker Jay S. Levy responds to these issues with strategies for effective outreach and engagement with the underserved in his new book “Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways: From Words to Housing” (ISBN 9781615990269, Loving Healing Press, 2011).

People cannot help one another if they cannot communicate, and resolving America’s homeless problem cannot be done simply through policies and procedures; it must occur on individual levels through learning to speak one another’s language. In “Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways,” Jay S. Levy presents multiple stories of how solutions have resulted from learning to communicate with the homeless. For example, Ben, who claims to be a prophet disowned in his own country and crucified by the government, finds a bridge to mainstream services through the common language of religious metaphors, including redemption and forgiveness. Such stories provide a path to understanding that can help the homeless population.

Interwoven with the stories, Levy provides a developmental model of how to engage with the homeless, striving to understand the language and culture of each individual to build a bridge to mainstream services. At the book’s center is a focus on the need for patience, compassion, and understanding, a willingness to listen to the stories of those in need, and how to build trust so the homeless will allow you to help them.

Levy says, "I wrote this book to educate others about the plight of long-term homeless individuals with untreated illnesses (addiction, mental illness, medical conditions) and their need for pretreatment alternatives that promote health and housing stabilization. It is my hope and conviction that the client narratives and pretreatment philosophy discussed throughout this text will provide the well-informed perspective needed for improving policy, supervision, and outreach-counseling services with under-served populations."

Jim O’Connell, M.D. and President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, says of “Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways” and Jay S. Levy, “His poignant book is a testament to the healing power of trusting and enduring relationships.” And Carol Hoyer, Ph.D., says, “This is one of the best guides I have read about working with the underserved and homeless. I wonder why all cities don’t put it into place…. Anyone in the helping field will do a great disservice to themselves if they do not read this book.”

About the Author
Jay S. Levy, MSW, LICSW, has spent the last twenty years working with individuals who experience homelessness. He has developed new programs and provided clinical staff supervision. Jay is one of the architects to the Regional Engagement and Assessment for Chronically Homeless Housing program (REACH). The Western Massachusetts Regional Network adopted REACH as an innovative approach toward reducing chronic homelessness.

“Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways: From Words to Housing” (ISBN 9781615990269, Loving Healing Press, 2011) can be purchased in paperback, hardcover, and eBook through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit http://www.JaySLevy.com. Publicity contact: http://www.ReaderViews.com. Review copies available upon request.

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