IUGM survey of 15,000 US homeless--FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 9 Dec 1997 09:38:28 -0800 (PST)


FWD from Michael Liimatta <Liimatta@iugm.org>

One in Five At U.S. Rescue Missions  Have Lost Government Benefits In Last
12 Months

Are Changes in the Welfare System the Reason?

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, the International Union of Gospel Missions
(IUGM) released its 1997 Snap Shot Survey of the Homeless, a survey of more
than 15,000 homeless men, women and children. The results show that 20
percent of the homeless checking into America's Rescue Missions have become
homeless because of the loss of government benefits in the past year.

"Changes in both state and federal welfare programs, eligibility
requirements for food stamps, Social Security Disability, and SSI are the
primary reasons for this," said Rev. Stephen E.  Burger, Executive Director
of IUGM, an association of 260 Rescue missions from around the country. The
survey also reflects, Burger adds, "In past years, the homeless were
getting younger. This year we found that they are getting older."

The Snap Shot Survey was conducted this fall by more than 135 Rescue
missions across the  nation. It asked a variety of questions, including
age, sex, time spent unemployed and/or homeless, and whether the individual
has plans to move to another city.

The full results of the survey are attached. Highlights include:

Homeless due to loss of  government benefits during past 12 months - 20%

Clients aged 26-35     1997 -  21%              1996 - 21%
Clients aged 36-65     1997 - 52%                1996 - 46%
Male Veterans           1997 - 32%              1996 - 34%

"Those who lost benefits tend to be alcohol and drug addicted men and women
in their 40's and  50's who previously received Social Security Disability,
and SSI benefits," says Burger. "The government has finally done away with
their drunk checks."

"Even though we have not yet seen the total impact of welfare reform,
people are already falling through the cracks," said Burger. "As a result,
welfare dependents, alcoholics and drug addicts are turning to rescue
missions for support. This can be a very positive thing because now, many
must deal with their problems. Rescue missions are effective in addressing
these life issues   because they minister to the whole person - body, mind,
and soul."

Burger added, "The key to the success of Rescue missions is the spiritual
element of their programs. Indeed, 76 percent of the homeless surveyed
prefer to receive services from faith-based organizations."

Burger noted other interesting results. The number of clients who have been
homeless less than one year increased from 58 percent in 1996 to 60 percent
this year. Those unemployed more than six months also rose from 50 percent
to 55 percent.

Some results did remain constant with those of 1996. For example, the ratio
of men to women was 4:1, a figure that has remained unchanged for several
years. The percentage of clients aged  25 and under was 24 percent.

A racial breakdown of the homeless who come to Rescue missions is:
Caucasian 46 percent,  African American 36 percent, Hispanics 12 percent
and the combined percentage of Asians and Native Americans at rescue
missions was 6 percent.

Adding a cautious tone, Burger said, "We have only begun to see the effects
of the Welfare Reform Act which was signed into law last year. We
anticipate dramatic changes next year when work requirements become
effective and women and families feel the full impact of the loss of AFDC
and other benefits. We don't see them coming in great numbers yet, but they
 will."

IUGM member missions provide emergency food and shelter, youth and family
services,  rehabilitation programs for the addicted, and assistance to the
elderly poor and at-risk youth.

Last year, IUGM rescue missions served more than 30 million meals, provided
12 million nights  lodging, distributed more than 24 million pieces of
clothing and graduated more than 20,000 homeless men and women into
productive living.

Further information about the IUGM survey is available on the IUGM website
at http://www.iugm.org.  See the "Studies and Statistics" menu for the full
numbers on this survey.

Michael Liimatta, Director of Education
International Union of Gospel Missions
1045 Swift, Kansas City, MO 64116 USA
Phone: 816.471.8020 FAX 816.471.3718
IUGM WWW Site - http://www.iugm.org