I am not sure I really have much to offer here as my lack of knowledge on this subject is vast. I will just throw out a couple of ideas and take them for what they are worth.
1. Working for Housing
First I would like to say I thought @RayInNJ idea was good.
2. Work Force Housing
This would be housing that is offered to people at a reduce rate who have shown a consistent record of working. This housing would not be offered to retired people or people who are on public assistant programs. This housing would be reserved for people who are working and make enough money to not qualify for any government assistance but stand no chance of saving enough money to ever buy a home.
3. Mental Health Hospitals/Homes
I know we all think of the horror stories when we think of the mental health asylums in the 50's but we need more places for our mentally ill population to stay. I believe I heard that in the 50's there were over 1/2 million people in state psychiatric hospitals nationwide. Now we have something like 35-40 thousand beds available nationally. We need government funded places for people with mental health issues to stay and be taken care of. We need different levels of care, similar to what you see in retirement centers (nursing homes) today. They have the level where you are living on your own but can attend functions with others. Then you can level up where you are living on your own but you have someone come by and assist you when needed. Then you can level up again and have all your meals, housework taken care of. Then when you need more help with day to day activities like bathing and getting dressed you will usually be moved to the part of the center where you can more easily be accommodated. Then of course there is the memory care unit. When you start having memory issues then they move you to a unit that has locked doors and safety measure in place. There needs to be more places that can accommodate mental health issues at varying levels.
This is a tough one. If someone is not ready to quit then there is nothing you can do. It would be nice if treatment centers where more accessible to those who wanted to go to them. So many are cost prohibitive. Making more programs available to middle income and lower populations would be a great help. We also have to be mentally ready that many people need to go through a program multiple times. If they want to go and its their fourth time, then we let them go.
5. Revamp Social Services
I have no idea how we would go about this but let me give a couple of stories. I have two friends who found themselves single mom's with no skills. They both went on public assistance. It was difficult and hard but they both went through school. One became a lawyer and the other a pharmacist. As they educated themselves and obtained better paying jobs they slowly lost all of their government assistance benefits until they were completely self sufficient. This is how the system should work. My third friend has a differently story. She also found herself a single mother. She went on government assistance. She got a job and did well at her job. She started receiving raises and promotions. With each raise and promotion she slowly began to loose her government assistance. Then she was promoted to manager which came with a large raise and health coverage. She went to social services and asked them their advice as she was still receiving aid for one child who had health issues. She was told that if she accepted the raise she would loose the aid she was receiving. She turned down the promotion. Her employer showed her that with the healthcare coverage they were providing she would not need the state aid and would financially come out ahead by accepting the raise. She again went to social services to ask for guidance. She again turned down the promotion. She then took 2 months off and came back to work at an entry level so that she would qualify for all the benefits she had worked so hard to get off of over the pervious years. This is not how the system should work. The system should be a safety net for those who need it not a way of life for those who don't. My friend should have been encouraged by the system, supported by the system to go for it and try to stand on her own.
Every person who is receiving social services benefits should be required to attend monthly educational classes. These would be classes in parenting, cooking, budgeting and so on. When parents learn these life skills they will most of the time pass them down to their children. Example: Parents learn in a parenting class to ask their child to tell them three good things that happened to them that day. They will learn that this simple act actually helps wire the child's brain to see things in a more positive and hopeful way. People who are more positive and hopeful usually have happier lives. With that simple act the parent is helping to give their child a better life. The child benefits by being happier and will hopefully be a more successful adult and a better parent. The parent feels like they are doing something good for their child when many on public assistance feel like they fall short of being a good parent. Education in life skills would have a positive ripple effect for generations.
Mandatory education in business and finances for Social Service employees. Many people who go into social services do so because they truly want to help people. They have a heart that screams to help those in need. Our society needs these people. They also need to have a basic understanding on how business and finances work. They can not keep asking for money to help the poor and needy when there is so much waste and fraud. They need to see how mismanagement of funds actually hurts the very people they are trying to help. They also need to see that by helping those who truly do not need to be helped or will not try to move out of the program they are hurting those who do need help.
Mandatory education for all policy makers. Every politician needs to know how business and taxes work. Business need to prosper so they can pay the taxes that help pay for the programs many of them want for their constituents. They should also be required to learn about what happens to a child growing up in poverty. How childhood trauma affects the person as an adult. They need to learn how it only takes one consistent loveing adult to offset childhood trauma and many times that person can be someone from the community. They need to see in numbers how much money it cost us to not take care of our children. Both sides need to be educated on the other sides concerns.