[Hpn] NEW HOMELESS - Youth, Women & Vets, USA SURVEY shows / Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (fwd) Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 2 Jan 2001 23:22:20 -0800 (PST)


2 RELATED ARTICLES ON AGRM's SHELTER SURVEY from AP & Birmingham News: http://newsfinder.arinet.com/fpweb/fp.dll/$stargeneral/htm/x_dv.htm/_ibyx/cg0302 6/_itox/starnet/_svc/news/_Id/694702806/_k/kbG8tBrGh2ZKOqSd FWD Associated Press - Dec 29, 2000 - USA WOMEN, VIETNAM VETS MAKE UP GROWING PERCENTAGE OF HOMELESS - SURVEY BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ A survey of rescue missions across the country, including one in Birmingham and one in Bessemer, shows that women and Vietnam veterans make up an increasing percentage of homeless people. The survey, which included the Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham and City of Hope in Bessemer, was compiled by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. It included interviews of 20,250 homeless people who were staying at shelters during October 2000. Of those surveyed, 22 percent were younger than 25. ``There are several surprises. One is how young they are,'' said Tony Cooper, executive director of the Jimmie Hale Mission. ``About a third were homeless for the first time. It destroys the idea all the homeless are old and it's a chronic thing.'' The survey also shows a shift over the last five years to an older homeless population, and a third of those surveyed said they were never before homeless, while 65 percent said they had been homeless less than a year. ``The streets of America are full of new homeless people,'' said the Rev. Steve Burger, executive director of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Veterans make up a third of homeless people and 47 percent of the homeless veterans served in Vietnam, up from 38 percent in last year's survey. Nationally, about 24 percent of the homeless are women, up from 19 percent in 1995, according to the survey. The survey also showed that 29 percent of men and 27 percent of women are in rehabilitation. Racially, the breakdown was 42 percent white, 41 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic. AP-CS-12-29-00 0129EST Received Id AP1003646B5B11DE on Dec 29 2000 00:30 ***** http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Dec2000/29-e420341b.html FWD Birmingham News - 29 December 2000 SHELTER SURVEYS FIND NEW HOMELESS Women, Vietnam vets, younger people seek shelter, survey shows GREG GARRISON News staff writer Women and Vietnam veterans make up an increasing percentage of homeless people, according to a survey conducted by 126 rescue missions across America, including the Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham and City of Hope in Bessemer. The "snapshot" survey of the homeless, compiled by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, included interviews of 20,250 homeless people who were staying at shelters during October 2000. Of those surveyed, 22 percent were younger than 25. "There are several surprises - one is how young they are," said Tony Cooper, executive director of the Jimmie Hale Mission. "About a third were homeless for the first time. It destroys the idea all the homeless are old and it's a chronic thing." Despite the surprising number of young people, the survey reveals a shift over the last five years to an older homeless population overall. Homeless people 26 to 35 years old dropped from 28 percent of the total in 1995 to 20 percent this year. But those between ages 46 and 65 rose during the same period, from 17 percent to 25 percent. A third of those surveyed said they were never before homeless, and 65 percent said they had been homeless less than a year. "The streets of America are full of new homeless people," said the Rev. Steve Burger, executive director of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Veterans make up a third of homeless people and 47 percent of the homeless veterans served in Vietnam, up from 38 percent in last year's survey. Nationally, about 24 percent of the homeless are women, up from 19 percent in 1995, according to the survey. The survey also showed that 29 percent of men and 27 percent of women are in rehabilitation. Racially, the breakdown was 42 percent white, 41 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic. The trend toward more women among the homeless has been becoming more evident during the 12 years of the annual survey. "That was a big factor in us starting Jessie's Place," Cooper said. Jessie's Place, a shelter for women and children, opened in 1998, but the Jimmie Hale Mission still mostly serves homeless men. The original shelter, now called Brother Leo Men's Center, has 100 beds, about half of which are used for a substance abuse recovery program and half for emergency shelter. During the recent stretch of cold weather, as many as 15 to 20 men have been sleeping in the chapel, which is used as an overflow area when the overnight beds are full. Jimmie Hale Mission also includes a rehabilitation facility called the Royal Pines Center in Blount County for about two dozen men. Jessie's Place can accommodate up to 39 women and children. It houses them for threeto six-month periods. Bread and Roses, Path, First Light, Hannah Home and Salvation Army are among the other shelters in the Birmingham area offering services for women. City of Hope Ministries in Bessemer, which has a capacity of 76 men and 20 women, also took part in the homeless survey, said Michele Heintz, director of administration for City of Hope. "Most of our clientele is here for our drug and alcohol recovery program," Mrs. Heintz said. "We try to address the question of why they are here. Most of the time it's drugs and alcohol. Our goal is to help them stop the cycle." Substance abuse - of alcohol, cocaine, or other drugs - remains a central problem in homelessness, Cooper said. For gospel rescue missions, the solution offered is Christian faith. "What we're talking about is starting a new life," Cooper said. "If you don't make a lifestyle change, it's temporary. It has to be a change in your belief system. We feel all problems have a spiritual root and a spiritual cause." Jimmie Hale Mission emphasizes spiritual conversion as a starting point for life change, as well as offering meals and a place to stay. About 82 percent of those surveyed said they preferred to receive services from programs with a spiritual emphasis. "There are only a few places you can go and get a free meal and get a chance to change your life," Cooper said. 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