More reason to challenge the local ten year plan.
Homelessness in the US
In 2000, 11.3% of the US population, 31.3 million people, lived in poverty. Here’s the most current information on homelessin the US. For ways to help, scroll down.
1. Since 2000, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased.
2.According to the 2003 report from the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta are the top five ‘meanest’ cities in the US for poor and homeless people to live in; California is the ‘meanest’ state, followed by Florida.
‘In Milwaukee, a church has been declared a public nuisance for feeding homeless people and allowing them to sleep there.
In Gainesville, police threatened U. of Florida students with arrest if they did not stop serving meals to homeless people in a public park.
In Santa Barbara, it is illegal to lean against the front of a building or a store, and no one can park a motor home on the street in one place for more than two hours.’
4.Families with children are by far the fastest-growing sector of the homeless population.
Children alone compose about 39% of the homeless.
5.In the median state, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 89 hours a week to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at 30% of his or her income, which is the federal definition of affordable housing (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2001).
6.For the disabled, in 1998, on a national average, someone receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) had to spend 69% of their monthly income to rent a 1-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent.
7.Loss of single room occupancy housing (SRO) exacerbates the problem. From 1970-mid 80s, an estimated one million SRO units were demolish (Dolbeare, 1996).
New York City lost 87% of its $200 a month or less SRO. Chicago experienced total elimination of cubicle hotels. By 1985, Los Angeles lock more than half its downtown SRO. San Francisco lost 43%, Portland lost 59% and Denver lost 64%. [Data is here: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/causes.html]
8.Approximately 22% of the single adult homeless suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (US Conference of Mayors, 2001). 9.’The relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and controversial,’ says the NCH.
Rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless but can’t account for the rise in numbers. However addiction does increase the risk of displacement ‘for the precariously housed.’ 10.What’s called ‘eroding work opportunities’ contributes.
According to the NCH, contributing factors to homeless are ‘a steep drop in the number and bargaining power of unionized workers; erosion in the value of the minimum wage; a decline in manufacturing jobs and the corresponding expansion of lower-paying service-sector employment; globalization; and increased nonstandard work, such as temporary and part-time (Mishel, Bernstein, and Schnitt, 1999)’.
Source: National Homeless Organization,HUD, National Coalition for the Homeless, and the Mayors’ Report.
If you would like to help, go here: http://nch.ari.net/local/local.html to find local service providers.
Go here http://www.hud.gov/volunteering/index.cfm to find national and federal volunteer opportunities.
Go here: http://www.hud.gov/organizing/index.cfm to find out about becoming a community organizer.
©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach’, http://www.susandunn.cc . Susan was formerly the Director of Development for a Homeless Shelter. She resides in San Antonio, TX and writes on various topics. She offers coaching, distance learning and eBooks around emotional intelligence for career, relationships, transitions, retirement and wellness. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE eZine.
About the author: ©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach’, http://www.susandunn.cc . Susan was formerly the Director of Development for a Homeless Shelter. She resides in San Antonio, TX and writes on various topics. She offers coaching, distance learning and eBooks around emotional intelligence for career, relationships, transitions, retirement and wellness. mailto:email@example.com for FREE eZine.
Author: Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach
By Marc Chamot
According to the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle’s October 29th 2008 article, there is a new breed of homeless coming out from these sad and tragic economic crises that has befallen upon us.
Former middle class and business owners, people who have achieved the American dream are now living the American nightmare. Businesses are going under and these people can no longer meet their financial obligations.
Foreclosures are the number one culprit that’s driving these new waves of homeless upon our streets.
From LA, San Diego to San Francisco shelters are crammed with these new breeds of homeless. They are no longer your usual run of the mill drunks and vagrants that people are accustomed in seeing.
“It definitely gives you a whole new take on life and how quickly things can unravel,” said by one.
“It’s worse than what the government wants to admit and we may not have seen the worst of it yet.”
As more and more people lose their jobs and homes in the worsening global economic crisis, experts are saying the face of the homeless is changing.
Across our nation in recent months, shelters and government agencies have seen a sharp increase in the number of homeless middle-class professionals and families.
In Los Angeles County the homeless capital of the states advocates say that they are seeing real estate agents, lawyers, business owners, pre-med students and other highly educated people losing their jobs and becoming homeless.
The Burbank Temporary Aid Center’s Executive Director Barbara Howell said. About half of those seeking help are middle-class people experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives!
They are sleeping in their SUV’s, vans and autos. Suicides are on the increase over the prospect of people being homeless.
In a county that has over 250,000 millionaires, there are about 73,000 people who are homeless on any given night, according to the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has more than 13,500 homeless children, a 35 percent increase from the year before.
Only 12 percent of the homeless find shelter at night, the rest are left out in the streets. Attacks on homeless have tripled within the last decade.
It’s America’s new shantytown! “The social safety net in our society is failing miserably.” And it’s expected to rise even more through next year.
“We are being confronted with an unprecedented increase in family homelessness at precisely the same time that we confront a substantial reduction in resources,” said Phil Ansell, director of programs and policies for the county Department of Public Social Services.
From June to August,the number of homeless families that the agency provided welfare benefits to, increased 20 percent to almost 7,100. As the county’s unemployment rose to 8.1 percent in August, the number of people receiving food stamps jumped from about 640,000 to more than 673,000.
As government agencies and nonprofits are facing unprecedented increases in need, they are watching their own tax revenues and donations declining. The state of California cut about 50 million dollars in funding for the social services agency, forcing to lay off their own staff and eliminate contracts.
“The majority of families who come to us were previously employed, were paying rent and mortgages and living normal lives, but because of the economic downturn, they can no longer sustain their way of life.” Says a prominent shelter director. “I think we have a new class of homeless people who are stunned and shocked that this could happen to them. They could never imagine themselves among the ranks of the homeless.”
Homeless numbers ‘alarming’
A surge in families seeking housing aid or shelter has followed rising home foreclosures nationwide.
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
More families with children are becoming homeless as they face mounting economic pressures, including mortgage foreclosures, according to a USA TODAY survey of a dozen of the largest cities in the nation.
Local authorities say the number of families seeking help has risen in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Washington.
“Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase” in the need for housing aid, especially for families, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates federal programs. He says the main causes are job losses and foreclosures.
Other factors have been higher food and fuel prices hitting families with “no cushion,” says Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Many mayors have 10-year plans to end homelessness and had reported progress until this year. The most recent official count, in January 2007, found 671,888 people living on U.S. streets or in shelters, down 12% from January 2005.
“We saw family homelessness began to increase last winter,” says Sally Erickson, Portland’s homeless program manager. “There’s definitely a spike in the last six months.” The number of requests for emergency shelter doubled from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal 2008, which ended in June.
Darlene Newsom, who runs United Methodist Outreach Ministries’ New Day Centers, which provide shelter programs for families in Phoenix, says the number of requests is “alarming.” She says families who never sought help before are calling.
Los Angeles says it has no 2008 data. Miami reports no major change. Chicago has not had a surge in requests, but more come from renters evicted because of landlords’ foreclosure, says Nancy Radner of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness.
USA TODAY found:
• In New York City, 2,747 families applied for shelter in September 2008, up from 2,087 in September 2007.
• In Hennepin County, including Minneapolis, 880 families were in shelters from January through August 2008, up from 698 in that period last year. At least 10% this year came from foreclosed properties where most had been renters, says Cathy ten Broeke, county coordinator to end homelessness.
Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor of social policy, expects foreclosures to cause a “big increase” in homeless families.
Mangano says a new federal law gives communities $3.9 billion to buy foreclosed properties or provide services to the homeless.
In hard times, tent cities multiply
September 28, 2008
RENO, Nev. – A few tents cropped up hard by the railroad tracks, pitched by men left with nowhere to go once the emergency winter shelter closed for the summer.
Then others appeared – people who had lost their jobs to the ailing economy or newcomers who had moved to Reno for work and discovered no one was hiring.
Within weeks, more than 150 people were living in tents big and small, barely a foot apart in a patch of dirt slated to be a parking lot for a campus of shelters Reno is building for its homeless.
Like many other cities, Reno has found itself with a “tent city” – an encampment of people who had nowhere else to go.
From Seattle to Athens, Ga., homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.
Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they’ve experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless.
The group says the problem has worsened since the report’s release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening.
“It’s clear that poverty and homelessness have increased,” said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. “The economy is in chaos, we’re in an unofficial recession and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future.”
The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up.
“What you’re seeing is encampments that I haven’t seen since the ’80s,” said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group for homeless advocacy organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore., and Seattle.
The relatively tony city of Santa Barbara has given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans. The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood. In Portland and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters. Other cities where tent clusters have either appeared or expanded include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego and Columbus, Ohio.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently reported a 12 percent drop in homelessness nationally in two years, from about 754,000 in January 2005 to 666,000 in January 2007. But the 2007 numbers omitted people who previously had been considered homeless – such as those staying with relatives or friends or living in campgrounds or motel rooms for more than a week.
In addition, the housing and economic crisis began soon after HUD’s most recent data was compiled.
“The data predates the housing crisis,” said Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD. “From the headlines, it might appear that the report is about yesterday. How is the housing situation affecting homelessness? That’s a great question. We’re still trying to get to that.”
In Seattle, which is experiencing a building boom and an influx of affluent professionals in neighborhoods the working class once owned, homeless encampments have been springing up – in remote places to avoid police sweeps.
“What’s happening in Seattle is what’s happening everywhere else – on steroids,” said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, an advocacy organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by homeless people.
Homeless people and their advocates have organized three tent cities at City Hall in recent months to call attention to the homeless and protest the sweeps – acts of militancy, said Harris, “that we really haven’t seen around homeless activism since the early ’90s.”
In Reno, officials decided to let the tent city be because shelters were already filled.
Officials don’t know how many homeless people are in Reno. “But we do know that the soup kitchens are serving hundreds more meals a day and that we have more people who are homeless than we can remember,” said Jodi Royal-Goodwin, the city’s redevelopment agency director.
Those in the tents have to register and are monitored weekly to see what progress they are making in finding jobs or real housing. They are provided times to take showers in the shelter and told where to go for food and meals. Sylvia Flynn, 51, came from northern California but lost a job almost immediately and then her apartment. Since the cheapest motels here charge upward of $200 a week, Flynn ended up at the Reno women’s shelter, which has only 20 beds and a two-week limit on stays.Out of a dozen people interviewed in the tent city, six had come to Reno from California or elsewhere over the past year, hoping for casino jobs.
“I figured this would be a great place for a job,” said Max Perez, a 19-year-old from Iowa. He couldn’t find one and ended up taking showers at the men’s shelter and sleeping in a pup tent barely big enough to cover his body. And the casinos are starting to lay off employees.
“Sometimes I think we need to put out an ad: ‘No, we don’t have any more jobs than you do,’” Royal-Goodwin said.
The city will shut down the tent city as soon as early next month because the tents sit on what will be a parking lot for a complex of shelters and services for homeless people.
The complex will include a men’s shelter, a women’s shelter, a family shelter and a resource center. Reno officials aren’t sure whether the construction will eliminate the need for the tent city. The demand, they say, keeps growing.