While some say it costs too much to house the homeless, there are programs
and studies that have proven it actually costs less to assist the homeless in
getting housing than to leave things as they are.
|For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Jesus, John 3:16-17 NIV
Many homeless get disability income, but it's not enough for all living
expenses. The maximum SSI benefit is $637/month while renting a small
apartment or mobile home can cost over $600, plus utilities. An estimated 10
to 15% of the homeless receive SSI or SSDI. Many who would qualify do not
apply or fail to complete the complicated application process. Many people
continue to be homeless for years due to delays in the process.
Meet the NIMBYs (NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard)
Some people will fight to block any type of homeless assistance
program anywhere near where they live, sometimes reacting
violently at community meetings.
Would having homeless people staying in a managed program
near their neighborhood endanger them or hurt housing values?
They don't seem capable of realizing that the homeless already
are there, and the programs would help to reduce homelessness
and improve their community.
With pressure on local government officials by people like the
NIMBYs, many programs are prevented from helping people to get
out of homelessness and back to contributing to the community. In
addition, programs that assist low income people, such as seniors
on social security or disability as well as the homeless, are forced
to close in a vain effort to "eliminate the homeless problem".
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I live in Pinellas County, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. Cities here signed to
a 10 year goal on homelessness with USICH in 2006. The latest point-in-time
count of the homeless in (Jan '09) indicated 6235 homeless (men, women, and
children), a 20% increase from two years earlier.
Meanwhile, many other communities across the country have been making
progress in providing real housing, not just night shelters or "tent cities". When
people care enough, great things can be accomplished.
What's in a name?
There are a lot of terms used in reference to homeless people,
often in a hateful manner. What about the real meaning of the
Bum refers to people who avoid working, even though capable,
while sponging off others. Some panhandle even though they
have good housing. If a person behaves like a bum it doesn't
mean they're homeless.
Hobo, tramp, and drifter are terms that usually refer to those
wandering without any home or regular job. Some work part time
labor jobs, or recieve social security or disability checks, but can
only afford minimal living expenses.
Street Person often refers to someone making it obvious that
they are homeless by drinking in public or demonstrating that they
don't care how they look. Some may have mental problems,
addiction problems, or have just given up on trying. Many people
think that these are all the homeless, though they are only a small
percentage of the real homeless.
Homeless refers to anyone with no reliable and appropriate
residence of their own. They may be working, or have social
security or disability income, but can't afford their own housing.
Many are not capable of working but yet cannot get assistance.
Some may spend nights in a supervised shelter, while many sleep
in places not intended for human occupation (living rough) such as
under bridges. Some families double or triple occupy single-family
housing, or live in vehicles. They are all still homeless.
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Attempting to Work While Homeless What do homeless people face
when trying to earn enough to get off the street? Do they simply get a job?
Can they go to a shelter and get the help they need?
Violence Against the Homeless Homeless people are constantly the
victims of assaults. Gangs of teenagers will beat and sometimes kill homeless
people saying they were just "looking for something to do".
|National Coalition for the Homeless
Those who are homeless, and are capable of working, should have
constructive assistance toward meaningful employment and housing.
Those who cannot maintain meaningful employment, due to disabilities or age,
should have assistance in obtaining adequate housing, food, medical care,
and basic necessities.
Those few who choose to be homeless should not have to live in constant fear
of being harassed, beaten, robbed, or even killed.
I accept the Christian viewpoint that everyone is my brother and sister. While
some religions teach hatred of anyone different, Jesus taught forgiveness and
love toward one another.
I've been publishing this website for over six years, by myself and
at my own expense. The comments I make, and what I choose to
present here, are based on personal experience in actually being
Like millions of other Americans, I haven't been able to find
significant employment for quite a while. If the current bill to extend
unemployment benefits doesn't pass, hundreds of thousands
more people may quickly be facing the reality of homelessness,
Your comments, questions, and suggestions are always very
welcome. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Alternatives to Living on the Street What can people with a very limited
income do if they can't afford conventional housing? Some move to rural
areas and make their own homes. What about cooperative housing?
Web Links Links to over 100 websites, for information, where find
assistance, organizations that help the homeless, places to volunteer, etc.
Who Are the Homeless? How many of the people you see every day are
actually homeless, but don't make it look like they are?
|National Alliance to End Homelessness
|"So in everything, do to others what
you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Jesus, from Matthew 7:12 NIV
About Matt. 7:12
|National Runaway Switchboard
1800runaway.org or dial 1-800-RUNAWAY
Donating to Charities Do you want to help the homeless? How do you find
a program that's making good use of donations?
Do I think that assistance programs will totally eliminate homelessness? I think
there will always be some homeless. Do we abandon cancer patients just
because the treatments may not always work? Why then should we give up on
assisting the homeless just because it doesn't help 100% of the time.
I have actually been homeless, and I don't mean just having to
sleep in my car a few times. I realize how hard it is to get any
significant work, or productive assistance, while in the situation.
What I write about here is based on experiencing what it's really
like, and getting to know many people who are homeless, not just
something that I read about.
There are huge organizations that collect billions in donations and
government grant money, but spend much of it on administrative costs,
paid fund raisers, and expensive advertising instead of assisting those in
need. Thousands of small organizations provide much needed assistance to
the homeless and low-income, and do it efficiently. They may be run by
churches, coalitions, or concerned individuals. Many people volunteer their
time every day without any compensation. Groups like these need assistance
in donations of money, food, clothing, and volunteer help. Small organizations
really do make a difference, and can put donations to good use.
If you decide to donate to a charity it's a good idea to get to know them first.
Many groups do good work, but there are fraudulent operations too. Check
them out and see for yourself what their accomplishments really are. Better
yet, get involved with them and volunteer some of your time.
My primary objectives for this website are to increase public
awareness of what homelessness is really like and to provide
information which may be of help, both to those who are homeless
and also those who wish to help the homeless.
I consider the information presented to be true and accurate to the
best of my knowledge. Listings and links here do not imply
endorsement of any individual, organization, church, or company.
I do not profit from this website. Actually I've been paying about
$180/year, to maintain it.
If you find anything to be inaccurate or misleading, or if you would
like some additional information presented, please email me.
Constructive suggestions are always welcome.
|Interagency Council on Homelessness
|National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
Over the past couple years Pinellas Hope, pinellashope.org, a program
managed by Catholic Charities and Ministries of Mercy, has been helping
homeless people in Pinellas County FL. Currently there is a capacity of over
250 individuals, with housing in tents on over 10 acres of land. There was a
groundbreaking 9/18/09 for 80 apartment units to be paid by federal and state
grants, and with operating expenses covered by some area cities. About 50%
of those leaving the program have been able to get some employment and
housing. It's a start in the right direction, though they can help only a small
percentage of the area's homeless.
Over 643,000 people are homeless in the United States at any
given time, based on a HUD report released June 2010 (PDF file), and this
includes families with children. That number is from a survey taken on a single
night in January '09. The report also indicated that during the year, October
'08 to September '09, over 1.5 million individuals had used an emergency
shelter or transitional housing. About 37% of the homeless are unsheltered.
The media tends to present the homeless as people panhandling, getting
drunk in public, sleeping on sidewalks, or pushing shopping carts full of junk.
There are people like that, but they are a small percentage of the total
homeless population. Most homeless people try not to look poor, and do what
they can toward gaining meaningful work and their own place to live.
How Can I Help? Do you want to help the homeless? Some thoughts
about ways individuals or groups can volunteer or donate.
|SOME WEBSITE LINKS OF INTEREST:
2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress
by HUD was released June 2010. The point-in-time estimate, from
surveys on a single night in January 2009 was 643,067 homeless,
both sheltered and unsheltered. Nearly two thirds were homeless
as individuals while over a third were homeless as part of a family.
The number of homeless using an emergency shelter or
transitional housing at some time between Oct. '08 and Sept. '09
was 1,558,917. PDF copy of this report.
In an interview for Affordable Housing Finance magazine,
Philip Mangano (former director of USICH) stated:
"The cost of a person experiencing chronic homelessness randomly
ricocheting through expensive health and law enforcement systems in 65 cost
studies from around the country ranges between $35,000 and $150,000 per
person per year. The cost of housing and support services for that person in
those same cities ranges from $13,000 to $25,000 per person per year. You
don't need to be Warren Buffet, or even Suze Orman, to figure out which is the
The Predators A great many organizations really do help the homeless,
but some just use the less fortunate as a way of making money.
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the
United States: 2008, a report by the US Dept. of Commerce,
indicates that 15.4%, or 46.3 million, Americans are without health
insurance. PDF copy of report
Pinellas County FL Some information about where to find assistance, or
volunteer, to help others in Pinellas County, Florida.
Housing First, also referred to as "rapid re-housing", is a concept
pioneered by Dr. Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing (New York City) in
the 1990s for the chronic homeless. This involves moving the homeless
person or family directly into an apartment, rather than a shelter, and then
dealing with other issues with a case management program. This is in contrast
with typical programs where issues leading to homelessness are addressed
before even considering providing housing. Many programs have been
developed based on the fundamental concept of Housing First.
Some information about Housing First:
Housing First for Families from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
HUD Homeless Assistance Programs Dept of Housing and Urban Development
CBS News video on Housing First.
Housing First, a special report NPR. Articles about programs.
USICH: Housing First - How consumer preference shapes the central
antidote to homelessness.
Homeless Numbers Dip, But More Families Suffer, NPR audio.
pathwaystohousing.org Pathways to Housing website.
An international blog site about homelessness.
Labor Underutilization... A Truly Great Depression Among
the Nation's Low income Workers Amidst Full Employment
Among the Most Affluent, a report by Northeastern University's
Center for Labor Market Studies, Feb. 2010, indicated that
unemployment for the bottom 10% in the 4th quarter of 2009 was
31%, compared to just 3% for those earning over $150,000.
PDF copy of this report
The annual Hunger and Homelessness Survey, Dec. 2009,
based on surveys in 27 cities by The United States Conference of
Mayors is available in PDF form. PDF copy of this report
|Directory of Local Homeless Service Organizations
National Coalition for the Homeless (PDF file)
Once Homeless Teen Inspires Livonia MI (6/14/10)
Homeless shelters were home to Benjamin Schiff when he was a
kid. "We'd sleep in these bunk beds in a big open room, and even
though everybody kept to themselves, I felt both isolated and
exposed," said Schiff, 19, of Livonia. But Schiff, who graduated last
year from Clarenceville High School in Livonia, doesn't have time
for pity. He's preparing to leave for the U.S. Military Academy at
West Point on June 26. Full text of Detroit News article
Lines for housing services getting longer at The Bridge
Dallas' homeless assistance center was built two years ago to
handle 500 to 600 people a day. But on many days, there are up
to 1,300, officials said. Full text of Dallas News article 6/13/10
Many homeless do low paying jobs, such as day-labor, but without real
progress. With constructive assistance, instead of just daily handouts, a great
many of them could achieve a productive life, rather than remaining in poverty.
Learning Online There are courses available online, for free. Anyone with
access to a computer may use them, including the homeless.
From the Quarterly Leadership Council HPRP Report, NAEH:
Approximately 35,000 persons have exited rapid re-housing and prevention
programs in the Leadership Council cities. Of the 15,869 that exited prevention
programs, at least 11,754 (74%) exited to permanent housing. Of the 18,969
that have exited rapid re-housing programs, at least 18,462 (97%) exited to
permanent housing. Link to report
Opening Doors, Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End
Homelessness (USICH 6/22/10)
"This Plan is a roadmap for joint action by the 19-member United
States Interagency Council on Homelessness along with local and
state partners in the public and private sectors. It will provide
a reference framework for the allocation of resources and the
alignment of programs to achieve our goal to prevent and end
homelessness in America."
PDF copy of this report PDF copy of brief overview
|CONTENTS JUST CLICK ON TITLE
Federal Plan to End Homelessness Released
Analysis of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End
Homelessness by the National Law Center on Homelessness and
Poverty. (6/22/10) Link to article Link to NLCHP website
72 Hours on the Streets and Thousands of Stories. Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel (6/28/10). A reporter spends some time on the
street. Full text of Journal Sentinel article Video
Illinois Waives State ID Card Fee for Homeless (6/26/10)
CHICAGO (AP) State officials say they'll waive the $20 fee on
state-issued identification cards for homeless people.
Full text of article.
(Please keep in mind that it's still necessary to show adequate
identification, which many homeless don't have, to get an ID card.)
The Unemployment Emergency
Editorial by Eugene Robinson, the Washington Post (7/6/2010)
The good news is that unemployment has fallen to "only" 9.5
percent. The bad news is that the jobless rate is down only
because so many people have given up hope of finding work.
Full text of Washington Post article
Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.