[Hpn] Research focuses on needy, homeless;Oakland Press;Michigan;11/12/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Tue, 13 Nov 2001 16:09:34 -0500

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Monday, November 12, 2001
Oakland Press <http://www.zwire.com/site/news.asp?brd=982>
[Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan]
Research focuses on needy, homeless

By DAVE GROVES, Of The Oakland Press November 12, 2001

A recently completed national study is expected to yield surprising 
information about need in Oakland County, local agency leaders said. The 
community will have to wait to learn more, however.

Data contained in the study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 
have been embargoed until Wednesday. The national study will provide local 
data for Oakland County and its human service agencies, some of which will 
hold local news conferences.

The study's release coincides with National Homelessness Awareness Week, 
Nov. 11 to 17, an educational campaign sponsored by the National Coalition 
for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and 

Homelessness Awareness Week couldn't have come at a better time, say a 
number of local human service advocates.

"There continues to be a severe problem with homelessness in Oakland 
County," said Kathleen Carolin, spokeswoman for the Food Bank of Oakland 

"We only have one homeless shelter in Pontiac that accepts both men and 
women, then we have one women's shelter and one that handles the mentally 
ill. Generally, they're all running at capacity."

Pinning down accurate numbers of homeless people at the local, state and 
national levels presents a formidable challenge for researchers, but 
anecdotal accounts indicate Oakland County - the second wealthiest county in 
the nation - is far from without a problem.

Sylvia Wheeling, food service manager for the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, 
said a large portion of demand for meals there comes from the homeless.

"I think its a big problem. Any time you can feed 300 people per day from 
one area, I think that's a lot. In summer when the children are out of 
school, that will easily go up to 400 people," she said.

Carolin said that a large portion of the county's homeless population is 
mentally ill, a phenomenon that can be traced to the 1997 closing of Clinton 
Valley Center, a hospital for the mentally ill.

While many homeless people live in urban areas such as Pontiac and the 
southeastern section of the county, still others live in tents and lean-tos 
in more rural areas.

Wheeling said the county's current level of need for food and housing is 
high, given the nation's economic slow down, falling contributions to local 
charities since Sept. 11 and traditionally limited human services funding at 
year's end.

"I think people need to be aware of what's happening right here and that we 
really need their support," she said.

Carolin said that no matter what the cause of homelessness, society needs to 
do more to address the problem.

"Everyone deserves to eat, to be warm, to have a roof over their head and to 
be safe. And children should never have to experience this," she said.

"If there are one or two people who have to sleep outside, that's one or two 
too many. We have to treat these people like we would treat ourselves or our 

Capt. K. Kendall Mathews, Salvation Army divisional secretary for 
southeastern Michigan, agreed.

"These are people, too, and we need to look at them not as homeless, but 
people who are working through some very difficult situations such as mental 
illness. They need our help," he said.

"These are people who have potential. These are people who with one 
opportunity could possibly turn their lives around."

Helen Kozlowski, executive director of the Food Bank of Oakland County, 
which provides food for local human service agencies and pantries, said 
people taking advantage of the programs are the working poor, children under 
18 and senior citizens - most of whom have some form of housing.

Still, she said, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addictions, divorce, 
relationship problems and other factors have forced many residents onto the 

Kozlowski spoke of a homeless man in Pontiac known as "Chief."

"He has a family, but he's an alcoholic, so he obviously can't function in 
the real world because of his drinking problem," she said.

"He's a typical example of a person who has a sickness and can't overcome it 
to provide for himself and his family."

Contributors to the homeless should consider conditions in which the 
homeless live, Kozlowski said, noting that they don't have access to 
conveniences such as can openers, microwave ovens and washing machines.

"If folks are going to donate they should remember the homeless and donate 
items that are easy to open and ready to eat," she explained.

Kozlowski added that donations of warm socks, shoes, boots, pants and coats 
are always needed at this time of year.

Mathews added, "Homeless people and disenfranchised people will always be 
with us. If people want to donate their time, their talents or their gifts 
to help the homeless, the Salvation Army is always willing to accept that."


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**


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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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