Ammunition

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Mon, 27 Dec 1999 17:33:21 -0800


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HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
6,000+ ONLINE POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn
***********************************************************
Hey Folks-

Special thanks to Barbara Duffield of the National Coalition for the=20
Homeless for compiling this report.  All the info here is as=20
up-to-date as it gets, and around here we recognize timely, accurate=20
information as our best weapon.

Besides, if HUD is going to squander $6 million dollars writing a=20
report, it's up to us to see that it will benefit anyone sleeping on=20
the streets tonight.

As for waiting until xmas day to announce McKinney grants, I guess=20
that's so the Prez can feel like a real santa. Problem is, the $9=20
million and change going to San Francisco represents $3 million less=20
than what the City and County requested.

I can only see a third straight record number of homeless deaths in=20
SF coming in the year 2000.

Peace,
chance martin
COH-SF

Homelessness in the United States: An Overview


Widespread homelessness is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is=20
rooted in federal policy changes in the 1980s, and it persists today=20
as result of continued misguided federal policy choices.

Homelessness grew significantly throughout the 1980s and 1990s:

=85 The U.S. Conference of Mayors has reported an increase in=20
homelessness in 26-30 American cities each year since 1985 (U.S.=20
Conference of Mayors, 1999).

=85 Many communities doubled or tripled their shelter capacity in the=20
1980s and early 90s to respond to increasing homelessness: in Boston,=20
shelter capacity increased by 246% between 1983 and 1995, increasing=20
from 972 to 3,362 beds; in Los Angeles, shelter capacity more than=20
tripled between 1986 and 1996, increasing from 3,495 to 10,800 beds;=20
and in the state of Minnesota, the number of persons in homeless=20
shelters on one night more than quadrupled between 1985 and 1997=20
(National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997).


A declining supply of affordable housing, and the limited scale of=20
housing assistance programs, are the most significant underlying=20
causes of homelessness in the United States.

=85 Between 1973 and 1993, 2.2 million low-rent housing units=20
disappeared from the market. These units were either abandoned,=20
converted into condominiums or expensive apartments, or became=20
unaffordable because of cost increases (Daskal, 1998).

=85 A housing trend with a particularly severe impact on homelessness=20
is the loss of single room occupancy (SRO) housing. In the past, SRO=20
housing served to house many poor individuals, including poor persons=20
suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. From 1970 to the=20
mid-1980s, an estimated one million SRO units were demolished=20
(Dolbeare, 1996).

=85 The demolition of SRO housing was most notable in large cities:=20
between 1970-1982, New York City lost 87% of its $200 per month or=20
less SRO stock; Chicago experienced the total elimination of cubicle=20
hotels; and by 1985, Los Angeles had lost more than half of its=20
downtown SRO housing (Koegel, et al, 1996). From 1975 to 1988, San=20
=46rancisco lost 43% of its stock of low-cost residential hotels; from=20
1970 to 1986, Portland, Oregon lost 59% of its residential hotels;=20
and from 1971 to 1981, Denver lost 64% of its SRO hotels (Wright and=20
Rubin, 1997).

=85 Loss of affordable housing continued into the 1990s: despite a=20
rapidly growing economy, the affordable housing gap grew by one=20
million between 1991 and 1995 (Daskal, 1998). By 1995, the number of=20
low-income renters in America outstripped the number of low-cost=20
rental units by 4.4 million rental units - the largest shortfall on=20
record.

=85 In 1997, for every 100 households at or below 30 percent of median=20
income, there were only 36 units that were both affordable and=20
available for rent (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,=20
1999).

=85 The paradox of economic growth and a worsening housing crisis can=20
be explained by the fact that the strong U.S. economy has caused=20
rents to soar, putting housing out of reach for the poorest=20
Americans. Between 1995 and 1997, rents increased faster than income=20
for the 20% of American households with the lowest incomes (U.S.=20
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1999). Currently, rents=20
are rising at twice the rate of general inflation.

=85 Government housing assistance programs can make the difference=20
between stable housing, precarious housing, or no housing at all.=20
However, the demand for assisted housing far exceeds the supply: only=20
about one-third of poor renter households receive a housing subsidy=20
from the federal, state, or a local government (Daskal, 1998).

=85 The limited level of housing assistance means that most poor=20
families and individuals seeking housing assistance are placed on=20
long waiting lists. From 1996-1998, the time households spent on=20
waiting lists for HUD housing assistance grew dramatically. For the=20
largest public housing authorities, a family's average time on a=20
waiting list rose from 22 to 33 months from 1996 to 1998 - a 50%=20
increase (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1999).

=85 The loss of affordable housing in the United States, and subsequent=20
rise in homelessness, is directly linked to the decline in federal=20
support for low income housing. Between 1980 and 1988, federal budget=20
authority for low-income housing was cut by over 50%, from $64.9=20
billion to $31.6 billion (Dolbeare, 1999).

=85 The FY2000 budget calls for only $20.7 billion in low income=20
housing budget authority, or 1.4% of total budget authority. In=20
contrast, housing-related tax expenditures, primarily homeowner=20
deductions, 75% of which benefit households in the top fifth of=20
income distribution, cost $105.8 billion. The entitlement to deduct=20
mortgage interest from income for tax purposes, is, in fact, the=20
largest federal housing program.

=85 In short, while federal policymakers have failed to respond to the=20
needs of low-income households, they have enacted policies that=20
disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans.

Persistent poverty is the other major cause of homelessness. Two=20
factors help account for increasing poverty in the 1980s and 1990s:=20
eroding work opportunities for large segments of the workforce, and=20
the declining value and availability of public assistance.

=85 Despite recent increases in the minimum wage, the real value (that=20
is, the inflation-adjusted value)  of the minimum wage in 1997 was=20
18.1% less than in 1979 (Mishel, Bernstein, and Schmitt, 1999).

=85 Declining wages have put housing out of reach for many workers: in=20
every state, metropolitan area, county, and town, more than the=20
minimum wage is required to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at=20
=46air Market Rent  (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 1999). In=20
fact, the median wage needed to afford a two bedroom apartment is=20
more than twice the minimum wage.

=85 The connection between impoverished workers and homelessness can be=20
seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of=20
full-time wage earners. A survey of 26 U.S. cities found that one in=20
five homeless persons is employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1999).

=85 A recent national survey conducted by the federal government in=20
1996 found that 44% of homeless people using shelters, soup kitchens=20
or other assistance programs did paid work during the past month.

=85 The declining value and availability of public assistance is=20
another source of increasing poverty and homelessness. Between 1970=20
and 1994, the typical state's AFDC benefits for a family of three=20
fell 47%, after adjusting for inflation (Greenberg and Baumohl, 1996).

=85 The AFDC program was replaced it with a block grant program called=20
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF benefits and Food=20
Stamps combined are below the poverty level in every state; in fact,=20
the median TANF benefit for a family of three is approximately=20
one-third of the poverty level. Thus, public assistance in the United=20
States does not provide relief from poverty

=85 Nor does public assistance protect families from homelessness: a=20
survey of homeless families in 22 U.S. communities found that 57%=20
were receiving welfare (Homes for the Homeless, 1999).

=85 As a result of loss of benefits, low wages, and unstable=20
employment, many families leaving welfare struggle to get medical=20
care, food, and housing. Many lose health insurance, despite=20
continued Medicaid eligibility: a recent study found that 675,000=20
people lost health insurance in 1997 as a result of the federal=20
welfare reform legislation, including 400,000 children  (Families=20
USA, 1999).

=85 Housing is rarely affordable for families leaving welfare for low=20
wages, yet subsidized housing is so limited that fewer than one in=20
four TANF families nationwide lives in public housing or receives a=20
housing voucher to help them rent a private unit. Thus, for most=20
families leaving the rolls, housing subsidies are not an option.

=85 Welfare reform has contributed to homelessness. A survey of=20
homeless families in 22 cities found that 37% had their welfare=20
benefits cut or reduced in the last year; among families who had=20
their benefits cut or reduced, 20% said they became homeless as a=20
result (Homes for the Homeless, 1999).

=85 Disabled people also struggle to obtain and maintain stable=20
housing. In 1998, on a national average, a person receiving=20
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits had to spend 69% of his=20
or her SSI monthly income to rent a one-bedroom apartment at Fair=20
Market Rent; in more than 125 housing market areas, the cost of a=20
one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent was more than a person's=20
total monthly SSI income (Technical Assistance Collaborative & the=20
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, 1999).

Particularly in circumstances marked by poverty and lack of=20
affordable housing, additional factors enhance the chances of=20
becoming homelessness. These include lack of affordable health care,=20
domestic violence, mental illness, and addiction disorders.

=85 In 1998, approximately 44.3 million Americans had no health care=20
insurance (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999b). More than a third of=20
persons living in poverty had no health insurance of any kind.

=85 Nationally, an estimated 18% of homeless parents who had previously=20
lived in their own apartment reported they left their residence=20
because of domestic violence (Homes for the Homeless, 1999).

=85 Despite the disproportionate number of severely mentally ill people=20
among the homeless population, increases in homelessness are not=20
attributable to the release of severely mentally ill people from=20
institutions. Most patients were released from mental hospitals in=20
the 1950s and 1960s, yet vast increases in homelessness did not occur=20
until the 1980s, when incomes and housing options for those living on=20
the margins began to diminish rapidly.

=85 According to the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe=20
Mental Illness, only 5-7% of homeless persons with mental illness=20
need to be institutionalized; most can live in the community with the=20
appropriate supportive housing options. However, many mentally ill=20
homeless people are unable to obtain access to supportive housing=20
and/or other treatment services. The mental health support services=20
most needed include case management, housing, and treatment.

=85 While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high=20
among the homeless population, the increase in homelessness over the=20
past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone. Many people=20
who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless, but=20
people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of=20
homelessness.

=85 During the 1980s, competition for increasingly scarce low-income=20
housing grew so intense that those with disabilities, such as=20
addiction and mental illness, were more likely to lose out and find=20
themselves on the streets. The loss of SRO housing, a source of=20
stability for many poor people suffering from addiction and/or mental=20
illness, was a major factor in increased homelessness in many=20
communities.

=85 Homeless people often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining=20
addiction treatment services and recovery supports. The following are=20
among the obstacles to treatment for homeless persons: lack of health=20
insurance; lack of documentation; waiting lists; scheduling=20
difficulties; daily contact requirements; lack of transportation;=20
ineffective treatment methods; lack of supportive services; and=20
cultural insensitivity. An in-depth study of 13 communities across=20
the nation revealed service gaps in every community in at least one=20
stage of the treatment and recovery continuum for homeless people=20
(National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998).

=85 Even when disabling conditions such as addiction or mental illness=20
are treated, homeless addicts and mentally ill people must compete=20
with all other poor people for a dwindling supply of low-income=20
housing. Homelessness can thus be seen as a perverse game of musical=20
chairs, in which the loss of "chairs" (low cost housing) forces some=20
people to be left standing (homeless). Those who are least able to=20
secure a chair -- the most disabled and therefore the most vulnerable=20
-- are more likely to be left without a place to sit.

The population of people who experience homelessness in the United=20
States is diverse; it encompasses all age and ethnic groups, and all=20
geographic areas  (rural, suburban, and urban). However, persons=20
living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless; demographic=20
groups that are more likely to experience poverty are also more=20
likely to experience homelessness.

=85 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors 1999 study of=20
homelessness in 26 American cities, the urban homeless population is=20
composed of single men (43%); single women (13%); families with=20
children (37%); and unaccompanied youth (7%). It is also 50%=20
African-American, 31% Caucasian, 13% Hispanic, 2% Native American,=20
and 3% Asian.

=85 Many people experience homelessness and housing distress in=20
America's small towns and rural areas. Studies comparing urban and=20
rural homeless populations have shown that homeless people in rural=20
areas are more likely to be white, female, married, currently=20
working, homeless for the first time, and homeless for a shorter=20
period of time (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1996).

Despite their invisibility, families with children are a growing=20
portion of the homeless population. Homelessness devastates children.

=85 Children make up 39 percent of people living in poverty in the=20
United States, but only 26 percent of the total population (U.S.=20
Census Bureau, 1999). In fact, the poverty rate for children is=20
almost twice as high as the poverty rate for any other age group.

=85 In some states, children under the age of 18 represent the majority=20
of persons who are homeless; for example, 50% of all sheltered=20
homeless persons in Minnesota, 64% of those seeking shelter in=20
Oregon, and 55% of homeless people in Iowa (Minnesota Department of=20
Children, Families, and Learning, 1998; Oregon Housing and Community=20
Services Department, 1997; Iowa Coalition on Housing and=20
Homelessness, 1997).

=85 In 1997, states reported 625,330 school-age homeless children (U.S.=20
Department of Education, 1999). Alarmingly, it is estimated that over=20
40% of homeless children in shelters are under the age of five (Homes=20
for the Homeless, 1999; Interagency Council on the Homeless, 1999).=20
Based on these numbers, the National Coalition for the Homeless=20
estimates that over one million children in the United States=20
experience homelessness over the course of a year.

=85 Homelessness severely impacts the health and well-being of children=20
and youth. Homeless children are in fair or poor health twice as=20
often as other children; four times more likely to be asthmatic (the=20
number one cause of school absences); twice as likely to experience=20
hunger; and four times more likely to have delayed development=20
(Better Homes Fund, 1999).

=85 Homeless children face numerous barriers to educational success.=20
Deep poverty, high mobility, and school requirements often make=20
attending and succeeding in school a challenge for homeless students.=20
Despite federal education protections, homeless children and youth=20
are still frequently barred from enrolling and attending school due=20
to residency requirements, immunization requirements, delays in the=20
transfer of school records, and lack of transportation. Homeless=20
children are twice as likely as other children to repeat a grade, and=20
often perform below grade level due to frequent moves and school=20
absences.



END FORWARD

**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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HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn>
6,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
*******************************************************

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
=46ax: (415) 775.5639
coh@sfo.com
http://www.sfo.com/~coh
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***********************************************************

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research

6,000+ ONLINE POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn

***********************************************************

Hey Folks-


Special thanks to Barbara Duffield of the National Coalition for the
Homeless for compiling this report.  All the info here is as up-to-date
as it gets, and around here we recognize timely, accurate information
as our best weapon.


Besides, if HUD is going to squander $6 million dollars writing a
report, it's up to us to see that it will benefit anyone sleeping on
the streets tonight.


As for waiting until xmas day to announce McKinney grants, I guess
that's so the Prez can feel like a real santa. Problem is, the $9
million and change going to San Francisco represents $3 million less
than what the City and County requested.


I can only see a third straight record number of homeless deaths in SF
coming in the year 2000.=20


Peace,

chance martin

COH-SF<bold><underline><fontfamily><param>Times</param><bigger>


Homelessness in the United States: An Overview



</bigger></fontfamily></underline></bold><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Wid=
espread
homelessness is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is rooted in federal
policy changes in the 1980s, and it persists today as result of
continued misguided federal policy choices.


<bold>Homelessness grew significantly throughout the 1980s and 1990s:=20


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The U.S. Conference of
Mayors has reported an increase in homelessness in 26-30 American
cities each year since 1985 (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Many communities doubled
or tripled their shelter capacity in the 1980s and early 90s to respond
to increasing homelessness: in Boston, shelter capacity increased by
246% between 1983 and 1995, increasing from 972 to 3,362 beds; in Los
Angeles, shelter capacity more than tripled between 1986 and 1996,
increasing from 3,495 to 10,800 beds; and in the state of Minnesota,
the number of persons in homeless shelters on one night more than
quadrupled between 1985 and 1997 (National Coalition for the Homeless,
1997).



<bold>A declining supply of affordable housing, and the limited scale
of housing assistance programs, are the most significant underlying
causes of homelessness in the United States.


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Between 1973 and 1993, 2.2
million low-rent housing units disappeared from the market. These units
were either abandoned, converted into condominiums or expensive
apartments, or became unaffordable because of cost increases (Daskal,
1998).=20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>A housing trend with a
particularly severe impact on homelessness is the loss of single room
occupancy (SRO) housing. In the past, SRO housing served to house many
poor individuals, including poor persons suffering from mental illness
or substance abuse. From 1970 to the mid-1980s, an estimated one
million SRO units were demolished (Dolbeare, 1996).=20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The demolition of SRO
housing was most notable in large cities: between 1970-1982, New York
City lost 87% of its $200 per month or less SRO stock; Chicago
experienced the total elimination of cubicle hotels; and by 1985, Los
Angeles had lost more than half of its downtown SRO housing (Koegel, et
al, 1996). From 1975 to 1988, San Francisco lost 43% of its stock of
low-cost residential hotels; from 1970 to 1986, Portland, Oregon lost
59% of its residential hotels; and from 1971 to 1981, Denver lost 64%
of its SRO hotels (Wright and Rubin, 1997).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Loss of affordable housing
continued into the 1990s: despite a rapidly growing economy, the
affordable housing gap grew by one million between 1991 and 1995
(Daskal, 1998). By 1995, the number of low-income renters in America
outstripped the number of low-cost rental units by 4.4 million rental
units - <underline>the largest shortfall on record</underline>.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>In 1997, for every 100
households at or below 30 percent of median income, there were only 36
units that were both affordable and available for rent (U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The paradox of economic
growth and a worsening housing crisis can be explained by the fact that
the strong U.S. economy has caused rents to soar, putting housing out
of reach for the poorest Americans. Between 1995 and 1997, rents
increased faster than income for the 20% of American households with
the lowest incomes (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
1999). Currently, rents are rising at twice the rate of general
inflation.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Government housing
assistance programs can make the difference between stable housing,
precarious housing, or no housing at all. However, the demand for
assisted housing far exceeds the supply: only about one-third of poor
renter households receive a housing subsidy from the federal, state, or
a local government (Daskal, 1998).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The limited level of
housing assistance means that most poor families and individuals
seeking housing assistance are placed on long waiting lists. From
1996-1998, the time households spent on waiting lists for HUD housing
assistance grew dramatically. For the largest public housing
authorities, a family's average time on a waiting list rose from 22 to
33 months from 1996 to 1998 - a 50% increase (U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, 1999). =20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The loss of affordable
housing in the United States, and subsequent rise in homelessness, is
directly linked to the decline in federal support for low income
housing. Between 1980 and 1988, federal budget authority for low-income
housing was cut by over 50%, from $64.9 billion to $31.6 billion
(Dolbeare, 1999).=20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The FY2000 budget calls
for only $20.7 billion in low income housing budget authority, or 1.4%
of total budget authority. In contrast, housing-related tax
expenditures, primarily homeowner deductions, 75% of which benefit
households in the top fifth of income distribution, cost $105.8
billion. The entitlement to deduct mortgage interest from income for
tax purposes, is, in fact, the largest federal housing program.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>In short, while federal
policymakers have failed to respond to the needs of low-income
households, they have enacted policies that disproportionately benefit
the wealthiest Americans.


<bold>Persistent poverty is the other major cause of homelessness. Two
factors help account for increasing poverty in the 1980s and 1990s:
eroding work opportunities for large segments of the workforce, and the
declining value and availability of public assistance.


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Despite recent increases
in the minimum wage, the real value (that is, the inflation-adjusted
value)  of the minimum wage in 1997 was 18.1% less than in 1979
(Mishel, Bernstein, and Schmitt, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Declining wages have put
housing out of reach for many workers: in every state, metropolitan
area, county, and town, more than the minimum wage is required to
afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent  (National
Low Income Housing Coalition, 1999). In fact, the median wage needed to
afford a two bedroom apartment is more than twice the minimum wage.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The connection between
impoverished workers and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters,
many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. A
survey of 26 U.S. cities found that one in five homeless persons is
employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>A recent national survey
conducted by the federal government in 1996 found that 44% of homeless
people using shelters, soup kitchens or other assistance programs did
paid work during the past month.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The declining value and
availability of public assistance is another source of increasing
poverty and homelessness. Between 1970 and 1994, the typical state's
AFDC benefits for a family of three fell 47%, after adjusting for
inflation (Greenberg and Baumohl, 1996).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>The AFDC program was
replaced it with a block grant program called Temporary Assistance to
Needy Families (TANF). TANF benefits and Food Stamps combined are below
the poverty level in every state; in fact, the median TANF benefit for
a family of three is approximately one-third of the poverty level.
Thus, public assistance in the United States does not provide relief
from poverty


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Nor does public assistance
protect families from homelessness: a survey of homeless families in 22
U.S. communities found that 57% were receiving welfare (Homes for the
Homeless, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>As a result of loss of
benefits, low wages, and unstable employment, many families leaving
welfare struggle to get medical care, food, and housing. Many lose
health insurance, despite continued Medicaid eligibility: a recent
study found that 675,000 people lost health insurance in 1997 as a
result of the federal welfare reform legislation, including 400,000
children  (Families USA, 1999).=20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Housing is rarely
affordable for families leaving welfare for low wages, yet subsidized
housing is so limited that fewer than one in four TANF families
nationwide lives in public housing or receives a housing voucher to
help them rent a private unit. Thus, for most families leaving the
rolls, housing subsidies are not an option.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Welfare reform has
contributed to homelessness. A survey of homeless families in 22 cities
found that 37% had their welfare benefits cut or reduced in the last
year; among families who had their benefits cut or reduced, 20% said
they became homeless as a result (Homes for the Homeless, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Disabled people also
struggle to obtain and maintain stable housing. In 1998, on a national
average, a person receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
had to spend 69% of his or her SSI monthly income to rent a one-bedroom
apartment at Fair Market Rent; in more than 125 housing market areas,
the cost of a one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent was more than a
person's total monthly SSI income (Technical Assistance Collaborative &
the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force,
1999).


<bold>Particularly in circumstances marked by poverty and lack of
affordable housing, additional factors enhance the chances of becoming
homelessness. These include lack of affordable health care, domestic
violence, mental illness, and addiction disorders.=20


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>In 1998, approximately
44.3 million Americans had no health care insurance (U.S. Bureau of the
Census, 1999b). More than a third of persons living in poverty had no
health insurance of any kind.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Nationally, an estimated
18% of homeless parents who had previously lived in their own apartment
reported they left their residence because of domestic violence (Homes
for the Homeless, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Despite the
disproportionate number of severely mentally ill people among the
homeless population, increases in homelessness are not attributable to
the release of severely mentally ill people from institutions. Most
patients were released from mental hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s,
yet vast increases in homelessness did not occur until the 1980s, when
incomes and housing options for those living on the margins began to
diminish rapidly.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>According to the Federal
Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, only 5-7% of
homeless persons with mental illness need to be institutionalized; most
can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing
options. However, many mentally ill homeless people are unable to
obtain access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services.
The mental health support services most needed include case management,
housing, and treatment.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>While rates of alcohol and
drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless population,
the increase in homelessness over the past two decades cannot be
explained by addiction alone. Many people who are addicted to alcohol
and drugs never become homeless, but people who are poor and addicted
are clearly at increased risk of homelessness.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>During the 1980s,
competition for increasingly scarce low-income housing grew so intense
that those with disabilities, such as addiction and mental illness,
were more likely to lose out and find themselves on the streets. The
loss of SRO housing, a source of stability for many poor people
suffering from addiction and/or mental illness, was a major factor in
increased homelessness in many communities.=20


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Homeless people often face
insurmountable barriers to obtaining addiction treatment services and
recovery supports. The following are among the obstacles to treatment
for homeless persons: lack of health insurance; lack of documentation;
waiting lists; scheduling difficulties; daily contact requirements;
lack of transportation; ineffective treatment methods; lack of
supportive services; and cultural insensitivity. An in-depth study of
13 communities across the nation revealed service gaps in every
community in at least one stage of the treatment and recovery continuum
for homeless people (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Even when disabling
conditions such as addiction or mental illness are treated, homeless
addicts and mentally ill people must compete with all other poor people
for a dwindling supply of low-income housing. Homelessness can thus be
seen as a perverse game of musical chairs, in which the loss of
"chairs" (low cost housing) forces some people to be left standing
(homeless). Those who are least able to secure a chair -- the most
disabled and therefore the most vulnerable -- are more likely to be
left without a place to sit.


<bold>The population of people who experience homelessness in the
United States is diverse; it encompasses all age and ethnic groups, and
all geographic areas  (rural, suburban, and urban). However, persons
living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless; demographic
groups that are more likely to experience poverty are also more likely
to experience homelessness.=20


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>According to the U.S.
Conference of Mayors 1999 study of homelessness in 26 American cities,
the urban homeless population is composed of single men (43%); single
women (13%); families with children (37%); and unaccompanied youth
(7%). It is also 50% African-American, 31% Caucasian, 13% Hispanic, 2%
Native American, and 3% Asian.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Many people experience
homelessness and housing distress in America's small towns and rural
areas. Studies comparing urban and rural homeless populations have
shown that homeless people in rural areas are more likely to be white,
female, married, currently working, homeless for the first time, and
homeless for a shorter period of time (U.S. Department of Agriculture,
1996).


<bold>Despite their invisibility, families with children are a growing
portion of the homeless population. Homelessness devastates children.


</bold></fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Children make up 39
percent of people living in poverty in the United States, but only 26
percent of the total population (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999). In fact,
the poverty rate for children is almost twice as high as the poverty
rate for any other age group.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>In some states, children
under the age of 18 represent the majority of persons who are homeless;
for example, 50% of all sheltered homeless persons in Minnesota, 64% of
those seeking shelter in Oregon, and 55% of homeless people in Iowa
(Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning, 1998; Oregon
Housing and Community Services Department, 1997; Iowa Coalition on
Housing and Homelessness, 1997).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>In 1997, states reported
625,330 <italic>school-age</italic> homeless children (U.S. Department
of Education, 1999). Alarmingly, it is estimated that over 40% of
homeless children in shelters are under the age of five (Homes for the
Homeless, 1999; Interagency Council on the Homeless, 1999). Based on
these numbers, the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that
over one million children in the United States experience homelessness
over the course of a year.


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Homelessness severely
impacts the health and well-being of children and youth. Homeless
children are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children;
four times more likely to be asthmatic (the number one cause of school
absences); twice as likely to experience hunger; and four times more
likely to have delayed development (Better Homes Fund, 1999).


</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85
</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Homeless children face
numerous barriers to educational success. Deep poverty, high mobility,
and school requirements often make attending and succeeding in school a
challenge for homeless students. Despite federal education protections,
homeless children and youth are still frequently barred from enrolling
and attending school due to residency requirements, immunization
requirements, delays in the transfer of school records, and lack of
transportation. Homeless children are twice as likely as other children
to repeat a grade, and often perform below grade level due to frequent
moves and school absences.=20




</fontfamily>END FORWARD


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