Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Point-in-Time Count - News Story

Follow this link to see the local coverage for the Mahoning Valley's efforts in the Ohio state-wide point-in-time count of homeless people in our community.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Point-in-Time Count

We are participating in the Statewide Point in Time Count on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:00 AM - 11:59PM. Beginning at midnight tonight, volunteers from many agencies will hit the streets, shelters, soup kitchens, bus terminal, and anywhere the homeless may congregate attempting to count unsheltered homeless people in our community. If you have any information to share or would like to help, please contact Erin Bishop, the coordinator of the Mahoning County Homeless Continuum of Care.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who is Homeless?

DEMOGRAPHICS - Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.

AGE  - In 2003, children under the age of 18 accounted for 39% of the homeless population; 42% of these children were under the age of five (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2004).

GENDER - Most studies show that single homeless adults are more likely to be male than female. In 2007, a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that of the population surveyed 35% of the homeless people who are members of households with children are male while 65% of these people are females. However, 67.5% of the single homeless population is male, and it is this single population that makes up 76% of the homeless populations surveyed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007).

FAMILIES - The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade. Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.

ETHNICITY - In its 2006 survey of 25 cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayor found that the sheltered homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-American, 38 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian.

VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - 50% of the 24 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Nationally, approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.

VETERANS - Veterans are slightly over-represented among the homeless population compared to their prevalence in the overall population (11.2 percent) (U.S. Conference of Mayors 2008).

PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS - Persons with severe mental illness represented about 26 percent of all sheltered homeless persons (Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, 2008).

PERSONS SUFFERING FROM ADDICTION DISORDERS - While there is no generally accepted "magic number" with respect to the prevalence of addiction disorders among homeless adults, the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ number in 2005 was 30%. Among surveyed homeless people 38% have an alcohol problem, and 26% report problems with other drugs (National Health Care for the Homeless Council).

EMPLOYMENT - The U.S. Conference of Mayors' 2005 survey of 24 American cities found that 13% of the urban homeless population were employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005), though recent surveys by the U.S. Conference of Mayors have reported as high as 25%. In a number of cities not surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors - as well as in many states - the percentage is even higher (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997). When asked to identify the three main causes of hunger in their city, 83 percent of cities cited poverty, 74 percent cited unemployment and 57 percent cited the high cost of housing.

IMPLICATIONS - As this fact sheet makes clear, people who become homeless do not fit one general description. However, people experiencing homelessness do have certain shared basic needs, including affordable housing, adequate incomes, and health care. Some homeless people may need additional services such as mental health or drug treatment in order to remain securely housed. All of these needs must be met to prevent and to end homelessness.

Information taken from the National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remember Haiti

There has been some discussion in the media regarding the cause of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12. One Christian leader attributes the cause to Divine judgment; a well-known actor lays the blame at the door of global climate change.

While we surely do not know why things like this happen to people already struggling in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, we do know that there is a desperate need for help. It is in times such as this that we see the best in our culture and in our people. The path to recovery will be slow and hard and will last long after the story has ceased to catch the attention of the viewers of the evening news. Remember Psalm 41:1; “Blessed is the one who remembers the poor.”

(Photo from online version of Boston Globe, REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking Back

The last year saw the Rescue Mission once again helping the homeless and providing food, shelter, safety and a second chance to many of the disadvantaged citizens of our community. While the statistics for the fiscal year are available on our website, these numbers represent the individuals who came to the Mission for help in calendar year 2009. Of 574 intakes;

  • 84 report alcohol abuse (33 report chronic alcohol abuse)
  • 44 report developmental disability
  • 82 report drug abuse (29 report chronic drug abuse)
  • 55 report both drug and alcohol abuse
  • 144 report mental illness (41 report chronic mental illness).

(These figures come from self-reported client intakes.)

In 2010, the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley begins its 117th year of service to the Valley. We cannot do everything, and we cannot do what we do alone. The challenge requires all of our efforts to meet the needs of the homeless in our Valley.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Soup Kitchen

According to this website, on this date in 1800, "the first soup kitchens in London were opened to serve the poor." Serving people in need has a long history in England and America. Inventor Benjamin Thompson, aka Count Rumsford, is credited with originating the 1st soup kitchen in America prior to the American Revolution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cold Weather Emergency Program - Part 3

I just ran the numbers for December, the 1st month of the Cold Weather Emergency Program for 2009-2010. The Rescue Mission has logged 820 overnight stays for the program for December.

This is not 820 different people. Overnight stays represent one person who stays one night. So, for 1 person who stays each night of the month, that amounts to 31 overnight stays. 820 stays amounts to a lot of services provided to people who might otherwise have no place to sleep during the cold.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Out of the Cold

The Warren Tribune Chronicle has a story about the Rescue Mission on page 1 of today's paper. Two of our residents are interviewed. Read the story online here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brutal Cold

My computer tells me that the temperature at the National Weather Service office is 17 degrees F, and with the wind chill it feels like 1 degree F. This morning, my wife and I were driving near an area where homeless people have been known to encamp. Surely, I thought, the area would be vacant. To my surprise (though I am not really surprised), there were snow covered tents announcing that people were still camping there.

I know that no unsheltered people will read this blog, but I have been reminded lately that there are many people in the community who are unaware of the Help Hotline number and the services it provides. The more who know, the more that the good word can be spread. This is brutal weather to be unsheltered. There is a warm place to sleep tonight and it is as close as dialing 211.