[Hpn] Slumping economy behind jump in homelessness;Holland, Michigan;11/15/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Thu, 15 Nov 2001 11:25:21 -0500

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Thursday, November 15, 2001
Holland Sentinel <http://www.hollandsentinel.com>
[Holland <http://www.ci.holland.mi.us>, Michigan]
Local News section
Slumping economy behind jump in homelessness

Advocates say increase was expected, but high numbers are surprising

By DAVE YONKMAN <dyonkman@sentinelnet.com>
Staff Writer

Rising unemployment is increasing the rate of homelessness in Ottawa County, 
but the number of pregnant women facing homelessness has decreased since 
last year, according to a group of area advocates.

There are 1,569 homeless people living in Ottawa County in 2001, up from 
1,475 in 2000, the Ottawa Area Housing Coalition found in study.

Susan Cervantes, chairwoman of the data collection/needs assessment 
committee of the housing coalition, said that the numbers weren't surprising 
with the slumping economy, but didn't anticipate the numbers being so high.

The coalition released the annual "point in time" study on Wednesday at a 
meeting of area advocacy groups titled "The Face of Homelessness: A 
Prevention Summit."

The 2001 point in time study compiles numbers from two two-week periods in 
late winter-early spring and late-summer-early autumn. The 2000 study was 
conducted during four one-week periods throughout the year.

And in 1999, the first year that the coalition began studying homelessness, 
the coalition studied one four-week period and determined that 1,263 people 
were homeless.

Cervantes said that despite the rising numbers, the coalition believes that 
the number of homeless people is 25 to 30 percent higher than than studies 
have shown.

"We know that there's families out there. We know that there's teen-agers 
out there living on the streets," she said.

This is despite that the number of agencies involved in collecting data 
doubled to 30 from 15 last year.

This year, 55 percent of those considered homeless were unemployed, compared 
to 28 percent last year. Of those that were unemployed, 53 percent were able 
to work and 47 percent reported that they weren't able to mostly for 
physical or mental disabilities, but also reported a lack of child care or 
transportation, or medical reasons.

The 2001 study also found that the number of pregnant women facing 
homelessness fell from 52 to 41 this year, an 11 percent decrease.

Many of the homeless cases, 426, were in the Holland-Zeeland area. 
Households headed by single females, 219, made up 33 percent of the 654 
households in the study. The number of homeless children dropped slightly 
725 from 730 last year, but not down to 1999's number of 619.

Wednesday's summit was a requirement of a recently awarded Challenge Grant 
from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The grant challenges 
agencies to develop creative and innovative methods to dealing with 

Agencies such as Community Action House and Good Samaritan Ministries are 
looking to implement intensive case management, monthly stipends and budget 
counseling to keep families from losing their homes, Cervantes said.

Wednesday's summit was one of two major events held during Homeless 
Awareness Week. The other was a Homelessness Awareness Vigil in Centennial 
Park on Tuesday.


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

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