Our existing methods to tackle societal issues are crumbling, even though we pour massive resources into them. Lack of funding isn’t the problem. Instead, we have a unique opportunity to get to the roots of our issues and ignite experimentation.
Providing shelter and services to homeless addicts may seem kind. However, if our goal isn’t helping them overcome addiction, we’re not creating anything that is healthier. We’re only extending their fight with addiction. Take San Francisco as an example—officials dedicated $1.1 billion in 2021 alone to fight homelessness. Still, homelessness shot up by 64%. So, where is all this money going? It’s a question that begs our attention.
The situation reminds us of the global effort to combat poverty. In 2020, countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) delivered a record $161.2 billion for developing nations’ economic development and welfare. Furthermore, the World Bank pledged almost $157 billion between 2020 and 2021 to aid developing countries.
And consider this as well. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropic foundations, and private individuals also donate billions each year for poverty alleviation. But despite these enormous amounts, poverty persists. Hence, it’s more than just the money.
Only 26 people hold the same wealth as half the world. This fact shines a light on deep economic gaps. Such an imbalance not only underscores the challenges faced by those struggling in poverty, but also calls into question the structures and systems that allow such inequality to persist.
Addressing the Root of Addiction to Poverty
The same is true for homelessness and addiction—simply pouring money into problems doesn’t solve them. We need to address the root causes, spot opportunities, raise questions, lend an ear, and create what’s needed. We can’t just stick Band-Aids on wounds without understanding the underlying issues and opportunities.
It’s not just about flinging money at crumbling structures. We must invest thoughtfully and purposefully for meaningful change. Can we transform funding into opportunities and healthier living pathways? No one is looking for charity; most of us crave dignity and opportunities. Can we move beyond temporary fixes and start imagining and constructing a healthier base for societal wellbeing?
Our traditional approaches to tackling homelessness and poverty are crumbling. Now, we have an opportunity to rise, meet this challenge, and see it as a chance for transformation. We need a new approach, one that genuinely makes a difference, that doesn’t neglect anyone but uplifts everyone. It’s time to ask tough questions and focus on our greatest opportunities.