The “Culture of Poverty” is a theory that the poor in America have a distinct system of values, one that is different from the middle-class values of most of the population. The theory asserts that when a child is born into poverty, he or she is socialized into behaviors, attitudes, actions, and paradigms that will ultimately trap them in poverty, leaving them little hope of escape. Many Americans believe that the poor are just like everyone else, just with less money in their pockets. This is simply not true. HCC has staff who are dedicated to narrowing the gap between our clients and their neighbors. HCC recognizes the culture of poverty, how it has affected the lives of those served, and—most importantly—how to change the impact of that culture, one client at a time, to stop the cycle.
Intensive case management is a model specifically intended for the most challenging clients—those with the most severe barriers, such as mental illness or addiction. In intensive case management, each client receives an individualized service plan, complete with individualized interventions. This case management model continues to be the most effective for the demographic served.
Since its inception, the Housing Crisis Center has been using scattered-site housing. Homeless shelters are a vital part of the effort to combat homelessness; however, living in a shelter just teaches a person how to survive in a shelter. As part of our efforts to address the problem of the culture of poverty, HCC houses its clients in ordinary apartment complexes in mixed-income areas. There is nothing to identify these units as social service residences. Case managers have offices on site, at a unit in the same apartment complex that houses the clients. They are accessible to clients, and their neighbors function as passive role models. Clients see on a daily basis how their neighbors go to work, feed their children, and manage a household budget. This is also called Observational Learning, an important tool for social workers.