Category Archives: Homelessness

Winning Over PTSD and Helping Homeless Veterans

4531319641_9fc769cb6b_z1.  From Win Over PTSD- “Homelessness in Veterans” by Charlene Rubush:

I’ve just received a link from Rosalyn Willson to an excellent infographic article titled “Gimme Shelter: Homeless in America. It focuses on the many faces and causes of homelessness in the United States.

The article notes that there are approximately 62,000 or 13% of the homeless population that are veterans. In a 2011 HUD study it’s was learned that veterans are 50% more likely than other Americans to become homeless.

Also, homelessness has increased in 2013 by 6% from 2012. Veterans are more susceptible to homelessness due to many factors:

  • Physical injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Mental suffering

The article extensively delves into the broad depth of the homelessness problem in our country. There are two main trends that are largely responsible for a rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years:

  • A growing shortage of affordable rental housing
  • A simultaneous increase in poverty

While the article cites some pretty grim statistics, it also provides a small glimmer of hope. It lists some famous people who were once homeless and where they stayed. It’s quite surprising to learn of them.

Here are a few:

  •  Kelly Clarkson (Streets)
  •  Ella Fitzgerald (Streets of Harlem)
  •  David Letterman (His truck)
  •  Joan Rivers (Car)
  •  Martin Sheen (New York Subway)

I hope all my readers will go to the following link and read the full article. It is very informative and should make those of us who have a home realize how very fortunate we are.

Plus it may prompt us to see what we can do to become part of a solution to this crisis. It’s heartbreaking and shameful. As such a rich nation, mustn’t we do better?

2.  From 100,000 Homes: “Housing First“:

The only lasting solution to homelessness is permanent housing. Far too often, however, we attempt to treat the symptoms of homelessness instead of its root cause.

For years, homeless service providers worked to offer medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, job training and countless other services to people living on the streets. Most homeless people were told they had to earn their way to permanent housing by checking these supplementary boxes.

While the intentions behind this approach were good, the unfortunate result was that very few people ever escaped the streets.

100,000 Homes communities believe this traditional approach is backwards, and the data agrees with them. Countless studies have now shown that we must offer housing first, not last, if we want to help people out of homelessness. An immediate connection to permanent supportive housing can ensure that over 80% of homeless individuals remain housed, even among clients with severe substance abuse and mental health conditions.

The bottom line is that it is just too difficult to battle addiction, take care of serious physical and mental health conditions or find steady employment while simultaneously battling homelessness. Contrary to popular opinion, these things are not precursors to housing. Instead, they stem from the safety and stability that comes from having a permanent home in the first place. That’s why all 100,000 Homes communities adopt a “Housing First” approach.

Housing First is a simple philosophy that dictates that the most vulnerable and chronic people experiencing homelessness be offered the choice to move into permanent housing combined with available supportive services (“permanent supportive housing”) right away. It discourages imposing conditions on permanent housing, whether related to health, employment or sobriety. This approach has a documented track record of ending people’s homelessness while often encouraging them to make their own choices to get healthy, quit drugs and alcohol, and find employment when possible.

Studies also show that Housing First approaches involving permanent supportive housing tend to be much cheaper for taxpayers than allowing people to remain homeless. As homeless individuals with the highest health and service needs benefit from the stability of housing, they are better able to tend to their needs in productive, self-driven and long-term ways. As a result, they make less frequent use of expensive, publicly funded services like emergency rooms, shelters and jails.

Ultimately, Housing First is based on the simple idea that a homeless individual will be most successful when able to make his or her own informed decisions about housing and health. Housing and services are made available when a homeless individual chooses them, not as a requirement or mandatory condition. This breeds a sense of independence and self-efficacy that is often instrumental in helping individuals remain safe, healthy and housed.

What Homelessness Taught Kylyssa Shay and How You Can Help

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:

Some Reasons People Become Homeless

Why Homeless People Don’t Use Shelters

Homelessness Myths, Misconceptions, and Stereotypes

What to Buy if You are Homeless

How You Can Help the Homeless Without Spending a Dime

Solutions to the Problem of Homelessness

Photo credit.

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.

What happened?

“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.

Photo credit.