Category Archives: Homelessness
I have several pages on Squidoo and think it is an excellent way to learn about writing online. Kylyssa Shay was homeless 20 years ago. Her lens (post/article) on Squidoo includes the following:
“Just over twenty years ago, I experienced a year of homelessness. During that period of homelessness I was badly injured, both physically and emotionally. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a contributing factor to my homeless situation and a barrier to escaping homelessness.”
“I’d like to share a little look into what it was like to live un-homed and unwanted. My point in this is to spread awareness of homelessness and to perhaps wake up a little empathy in people. My hope is that people will do something to prevent homelessness in their country, their community, and their family. I also want to show that homeless people are not all addicts nor are they people too lazy to work.”
“Due to unemployment and record foreclosures, more Americans are becoming homeless. These homeless people need our help and understanding.”
“It’s very hard for me to talk about my homeless experiences but I feel it is necessary. I find it much easier and less stressful to write about being homeless than to talk about it. This may in part be due to having PTSD but it is also an effect of Asperger’s Syndrome. Writing provides emotional distance and keeps me from getting too overwhelmed by the feelings associated with those times in my life.”
“In the blocks below you will find several how-to articles and an editorial I wrote about “The Homeless” from my own perspective. Understand that some of these articles were written from a place of pain and anger so they and their content are not pretty. Homelessness is not pretty, either but it has a face, and the faces of homeless people are just like yours and mine.”
Read more here.
Some related lenses in Squidoo about homelessness are:
Weekly Links for Resources and Solutions for the Homeless (Take a Stand Against Homelessness): 6/15/11
1. Should Homeless 19-Year-Olds be Allowed in Foster Care? by Jason Salzman:
Last month, state Rep. J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) took heat from ColoradoPols for standing alone in a 64-to-1 vote against a bill that would, among other things, allow homeless youth shelters to temporarily house youth ages 11 to 21. Today, only homeless kids ages 15 to 18 are defined as “homeless youth” under state law and can be served by youth shelters.
On Monday, when the bill returned to the state House from the Senate, where it was approved 34-0, Brown wasn’t as lonely.
Ten of Brown’s colleagues changed their minds and joined him in opposing the “Reduce Homeless Youth” bill, which was essentially unchanged from the version that passed 64 to 1 in February — except for the addition of reporting requirements which were unanimously adopted.
“I struggled with it a little bit the first time because of that extension of age,” said Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, who had originally favored the measure but voted against it Monday. “As we look at the budget and as we look at the situation in the country overall, we have to at some point ask ourselves, when are we going to call ourselves adults and hold people accountable and look at their personal responsibility.”
“When are we going to require folks to be adults?” Beezley said. “They vote at 18. They go to war at 18.”
I asked Beezley about the part of the bill that expands the definition of “homeless youth” under Colorado law to include kids ages 11 through 14. Would he have favored the bill if the 18-to-21-year-olds were excluded?
“Yes, potentially, but I’d have to look at it again,” he answered, adding that he had fiscal concerns about the bill too.
“Extend those definitions and you expend more dollars over time,” Beezley said.
That was the primary reason Rep. Brown gave for opposing the bill in his 64-to-1 stand last month — and the reason for his solo vote was not reported at the time.
2. Don’t Play Politics With the Homeless by Liz Krueger:
Often, they are right. My colleagues and I have fought hard to restore cuts to schools, healthcare and services for the disabled, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. But not every program Albany funds is a winner. Some, like New York City’s “Advantage” program for homeless New Yorkers, are ineffective and a poor use of our limited resources.
Advantage aims to move families out of the shelter system and into their own apartments — a crucial and important goal. But its bureaucratic rules and rigid cutoff dates have resulted in many people who enter the program, ending up back on the streets or returning to the City’s overcrowded homeless shelters. This winter, the City’s own data confirmed that one-third of those who left the program ended up homeless again. In short, the program simply isn’t working.
The program has been paid for through a mix of City and State funds, but this year Governor Cuomo made the hard choice to end the State’s portion of that funding. In response, Mayor Bloomberg has threatened to end the program completely and immediately, even pulling the rug out from those who are currently utilizing the services. The City’s Department of Homeless Services has even sent letters to the 15,000 households currently enrolled in the Advantage program, notifying them that their subsidy would be terminated, leaving many to fear that they could be back out on the streets in just a few months.
This unnecessary, alarmist response serves no purpose other than to make headlines. As state officials and homeless policy experts have argued, New York City can responsibly phase out the failed Advantage program and return to alternative programs that we know work, like moving qualified families into Federal housing programs, such as public housing and Section 8. That was the proven approach used by the City for decades (even under Mayor Giuliani!), and that has helped thousands of families move into permanent, affordable homes and restart their lives. But as of now, Mayor Bloomberg and the City have not proposed an alternative solution, instead they have simply said it’s either this program or none at all. I see no sense in that.
The Coalition for the Homeless, New York’s leading voice for sensible, effective homelessness policy, has launched an online letter writing campaign, calling on the Mayor to stop the scare tactics and go back to the cost effective programs that we know can reduce family homelessness.
1. Flip Million Dollar Venture Capital Investments Into Homeless Housing by Joel John Roberts:
“In the world of homelessness, we know that there are two significant barriers that prevent this country from seriously ending the sad fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans live in extreme poverty on our streets.”
“The first is political policies and cowardly political will that allows Americans to become homeless upon discharge from the armed services, foster care programs, health care systems and incarceration.”
“The second is the lack of radically large financial investment in supportive housing.”
“So when I read articles where venture capital investors are pumping millions of dollars into an idea, my own entrepreneurial ideas of social change kick in.
For example, the traditional mode of fundraising by this country’s nonprofit charity groups is basically a sophisticated form of begging. We put our hands out by sending out direct mail pieces, newsletters and now Tweets and Facebook messages, asking generous Americans to give.”
“But why don’t we turn charity groups into social businesses that happen to reinvest all of their profits back into their business? Then we can ask Americans to invest in our product — and in the homeless world, our product is housing.”
“There are 121,000 chronically homeless Americanswho have been living on our streets for years with some form of disability or chronic illness. We see them every day by the freeway off-ramp or on the street corner of a business retail neighborhood, with their hands out and their heads down.”
“The low-end cost to build affordable housing in California is around $250,000per unit. That means this country needs $30 billion to house every chronically homeless American.”
2. My First Night Homeless: A True Story by Mark Horvath:
“If you’ve never been homeless, it’s tough to describe that first night sleeping on the street. The fear and disillusionment are almost paralyzing. You just go through the motions, but at the same time you’re beating yourself up for being in this situation. It is very surreal because no one ever thinks they will become homeless. No one.”
“I’ll never forget my first night. All of a sudden and without warning, I found myself homeless in Koreatown near downtown Los Angeles. I was sober, but I had no money, no place to go and no one I could call for help. I was officially homeless.”
“This was all new to me. I had no homeless training. I had no clue how I was going to survive. Just six months earlier I had a well-paying job in the television industry, overseeing syndicated programs like Wheel of Fortune. But now, I was the one who had suddenly landed on bankrupt. The irony was painful.”
“I decided to walk from Koreatown to North Hollywood, mainly because I knew the neighborhood and was comfortable with the area. I walked 11 or so miles to the valley. By the time I arrived, it was beginning to get dark, so I started to think about where I was going to sleep. I decided to try a park close to my old house where I used to play my conga drum on hot summer days. But when I arrived, I noticed gang members hanging around in the dark, so I moved on to another location.”
“I continued walking to park after park. I just didn’t feel safe in any of them. My feet were becoming swollen; I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I knew that the worst crimes in the city — muggings, beatings, shootings — happened at night to people living outdoors. I knew that when you sleep outside, you are vulnerable to just about everything. I was scared. Probably more scared then I have been or ever will be.”
“I think it was around 3 a.m. when I finally found a park near a small shopping mall in North Hollywood. It was empty, and the first place where I felt safe enough to lay down. Exhaustion quickly set in and I closed my eyes. I don’t remember how much time had passed — maybe 20 minutes — when, suddenly, all the water sprinklers went off. I just laid there in disbelief, soaking. It’s impossible to describe the mixture of fear, anger, vulnerability and, well, homelessness I felt as I lay there.”
“Today, it’s easier for me to laugh at that bit of misfortune with the sprinklers. But the deep memories of pain and loneliness from that night will always be with me.”
3. Working to End Homelessness in Durham, NC by Mary McGuigan:
“Circles of Support is a program designed to empower homeless families with the skills to find employment, housing and improve their overall quality of life. This program was launched in August 2010 as part of our programming to help homeless families.”
“A Circle of Support can be a civic group, faith-based small group or a close-knit group of friends. The goal is to match support circles with transitioning families helping to keep them in their homes.”
“Tasha Melvin, Volunteer Coordinator for the Genesis Home, facilitates the program. “This program is extremely important because often times our homeless families enter homelessness because they lack support. When they leave from a shelter to their own housing they still don’t have support so they are more likely to return to homelessness. That’s why I like the concept of this program so much,” Melvin said.”
“Support Circles will provide direct support to the household they are matched with. Support Circle members will meet with the household member(s) and assist them in setting and meeting attainable goals. Some activities include:
- Budgeting and finance
- Healthy eating habits
- Tutoring members enrolled in school
- Helping adults with job applications, résumés, and cover letters
- Providing transportation
- Helping member(s) access community resources
- Assisting with child care
“The funds will be directed to our budget of $21,000 annually to administer this program. Teh annual goal is to match 10 families with ten support circles. Training session and materials for volunteers, a salary for a part-time administrator of the program and direct financial support to the families are all built into the budget.”