According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the United States. As rents and housing costs soar, it has become increasingly difficult for people fleeing domestic violence to find affordable, PERMANENT housing. There are many domestic violence shelters in the United States that struggle to meet the demand for temporary housing and supportive services. If a person who has experienced domestic violence is able to attain temporary shelter and services, after leaving the shelter, they will have to look for permanent housing. The high housing costs can prevent them from finding a stable place to live. Click on the link above to read more about this issue in the AP article.
A big thank you to Dorothy Holt for finding this informative article!
This week, National Public Radio (NPR) has been covering homelessness in Seattle. This affluent, idyllic city has raised to fourth on the list of cities in the nation with the highest rates of homelessness. Seattle follows New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas as the city with the greatest number of people experiencing homelessness. Unlike other cities in America (even the “big three” of NY, LA, and LV) where homelessness is decreasing (albeit slowly) due to increased policy efforts targeted at veteran and family homelessness, Seattle has seen an increase in homeless residents in the past decade. Seattle’s 211 line (the emergency line for homeless residents in crisis) is flooded with calls and the waiting lists for shelters and affordable housing units are years long.
Click here to read or listen to a poignant piece from American University’s radio station WAMU …. Rapid ReHousing is a program that began at the federal level, but has since caught on at the state and local levels. Rapid ReHousing is a temporary fix for the long-term problem of limited affordable housing. This program gives homeless families a rental voucher that allows them to live in an average cost apartment for a certain period of time (usually six months to two years, depending on the program). When the rental voucher runs out, some families cannot afford the “average” cost rent and they are forced to move out.
According to WAMU’s report, Rapid ReHousing is encouraged by advocates who predict that it will work for about 80% of families who will not re-enter a shelter after participating in the program. These are only predicted figures that acknowledge the “band aid fix” nature of the intervention.
However, the Rapid ReHousing program model does not solve the real problem: limited affordable housing. An excerpt from the report shines light on the severity of the problem:
“Kate Coventry, a policy analyst with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, says to afford market-rate rent, a single mom making minimum wage would have to work three full time jobs, or more than 120 hours a week…’I think it is a mistake to think that the homeless system alone can solve all of these issues of poverty,’ says Kelly Sweeney McShane, with Community of Hope. “We need more affordable housing. We need more jobs. We need more living wage jobs. We need other services that will help families not fall through the cracks.’ ”
States that have already implemented similar programs–such as Mississippi, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah–are spending millions on the drug testing programs alone. Not only does the act of drug testing applicants raise ethical issues, but the drug testing programs themselves are costing states far too much money and this money comes out of the budgets of the welfare programs.
The article quotes one welfare rights advocate who argues soundly that this is a waste of money that should be spent on helping, and not hurting, TANF applicants: “‘The main impact of it is first…to spend TANF money that could go into other things,’ said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator and director of income and work supports at CLASP, a non-profit focused on policy for low-income individuals. While many states told ThinkProgress that the funds don’t necessarily come out of the pot that would go to TANF benefits, it’s still money that could go elsewhere. ‘The money could certainly be spent on other things if it wasn’t going to drug testing,’ she said. ‘Even if it’s a state where it can’t go to into childcare or cash assistance, it probably comes out of their administration pot, so that’s caseworkers and things like that.’”
The article also addresses the fact that these drug testing policies impact social stigmas surrounding seeking state assistance (e.g. welfare/TANF benefits) and drug use. These policies can discourage drug users from seeking help and economically disadvantaged folks from seeking TANF benefits. A must read for anyone interesting in homelessness, poverty, inequality, and welfare politics!
Today, National Public Radio has highlighted and publicized a troubling story about the rise of bans on “food sharing” or distributing food to the homeless in various cities across the nation. CLICK HERE to read the story. It is inhumane to criminalize the distribution of food to the hungry. These cities should be ashamed.
If you live in the San Gabriel Valley area of Southern California (e.g. Claremont, Upland, Ontario, Pomona, Montclair, etc.), then come and support Foothill Family Shelter, a fantastic shelter that serves homeless families in Upland, CA. On May 31, 2014 from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, Foothill Family Shelter will have an electronic recycling drive at their offices at 1501 W. Ninth St., Suite D, Upland, CA 91786. Bring all of those old phone chargers, computers, printers, CD drives, ANYTHING WITH A CORD!!! (Just don’t bring any household batteries!). All of the proceeds from this event will go towards helping homeless families in the Upland area. For questions, call the Foothill Family Shelter at 909-920-0453 and check out their website: https://www.foothillfamilyshelter.org
The blue link above will lead you to a flyer for the event!!