Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dept. of Labor Advances Funds for Homeless Vets

Photo courtesy Elvert Barnes @ Flickr
This is something I missed at the beginning of August: funding to help homeless vets transition back into the workforce. It's nice to be able to balance out some good news with the down-notes of previous posts regarding veterans experiencing homelessness.

While the overall total of about $5 million is not a vast number (by governmental standards), if the money can divert veterans out of homelessness and into employment, the money may be a sound investment as well as a moral imperative. (After all, as Joel Best says, "The billion is the new million.")

This, in conjunction with President Obama's proposed payroll tax breaks for companies hiring veterans will hopefully contribute to helping those men and women who have served our country with honor.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Subpopulations of the Homeless

From the National Alliance to End Homelessness, this graphic describes the national composition of homeless subpopulations. Though the data is from 2008-2009, I believe this chart does help visually describe what the modern landscape of homelessness looks like.

For more data on national and local homelessness statistics, please visit their site.

Community Assists Homeless Grandmother Find Housing

From The State newspaper, a York County (SC) woman was living in a makeshift tent with her 7 year-old grandson while unhoused last week. While the woman did receive some welfare benefits, they were sufficient to transition her and her grandchild into permanent housing.

After local residents observed the pair in distress, a number of individuals coordinated resources to help her secure entry into an apartment. At present, the re-housed grandmother is now going though court proceedings and home inspections to secure the return of her grandson from protective care.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Increasing Homeless Population Includes More Female Vets

Picture via U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
The Fayetteville Observer has released an important story about the increasingly complex picture of homelessness in the Midlands: female veterans of foreign wars. While the intersection of veteran and homelessness statuses have often been reviewed in scholarly literature and advocacy, reports suggest that women soldiers are facing the same obstacles that their male counterparts have struggled with.

More Homeless Female Veterans - Fayetteville Observer

How should we as a society prepare to better address the needs of this population? Are there meaningful differences in life course and social expectations for women veterans that institutions who serve persons without shelter ought to consider?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Housing Chronically Homeless Saves $ in Emergency Care

It probably should not surprise anyone that unhoused living is a persistent risk one's health. Other than the obvious conditions of weather and exposure, the enhanced likelihood of victimization of crime, exposure to risk behaviors, and the like all contribute to worse health outcomes.

A new HUD report details how providing supportive housing to the chronically homeless may actually save money in the long-run: by decreasing the amount of money the tax-base expends treating medical conditions that arise in part due to the conditions of long-term homelessness.

This is the brief from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. You can follow their links to the HUD report from there. Thanks to local Twitter feed @colahomeless for the heads up.

HUD Report: Housing Homeless Decreases ER Costs

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Images of Homelessness

Santa Clara University is hosting a new exhibit featuring artists' images of homelessness. For those of you who are visual learners or just enjoy emotionally evocative artwork, check out their online feature "Hobos to Street People."

Thanks to the National Coalition for the Homeless' twitter feed for making me aware of the work.

Diminishing Rent Assistance in Charleston Area

When considering the number of people who are living in homelessness, it is important to also consider the people living at the margins just above homelessness. In many communities, individuals and families are able to avoid homelessness through the contribution of government regulated rent-assistance. While rent subsidies and housing voucher programs do draw from our available tax revenues, the amount of money invested in housing can be the difference between living in a stable home or entering a homeless condition.
Photo courtesy of Brad Nettles, Post & Courier

From this perspective, we can see the subsidies as a buffering investment that allows households to maintain their current home, social network, sense of self, and employment. Without these subsidies, we would see an even greater need on our already overtaxed emergency shelter-care systems.

Rent Assistance Cutbacks - Post & Courier (Charleston)

Also interesting to me are the comments at the bottom of the above article. The majority of the commentary are cynical critiques of the situation, either blaming the individuals in poverty for their situation or begrudging the fact that some of the housing is located on Daniel Island. I am not familiar with the Daniel Island area but it would be interesting to see what the household income distribution of the area looked like.