Causes Investigates Growing Trends of Homelessness
Posted Mar 15, 2011 by Daniil Karp and Katja Nelson
Times of economic crisis bring to the forefront the everyday struggles and suffering of those Americans for who every day is a battle to make ends meet. Recently 60 Minutes and NPR aired an investigative series chronicling the effects of the recession on homelessness in America.
While homelessness is a perennial issue in the United States the economic crisis has magnified its reach and effects, disproportionately hitting middle and working class families and young people.
The affects of homelessness on families and children
From 2008 to 2009 the highest rise in homelessness was among families, with 3,200 new homeless households. Families are suddenly one paycheck away from not having a home, as 60 Minutes reported in its Hidden American segment, “one of the consequences of the recession that you don’t hear a lot about is the record number of children descending into poverty.” From 2008-2010 two million children joined the existing 14 million living below the poverty line, a 14 percent jump in just two years. As a country we are inching toward the point where 25 percent of children in the US will live in poverty, the highest percentage since the Great Depression.
The effects of these numbers are staggering and hard to comprehend until you hear the stories told by the children experiencing them.
Start at 4 minute mark
The Chronically Homeless
For the chronically homeless a tough situation has gotten even worse. To face this challenge over 70 major US cities have teamed up with the New York City group Common Ground for a national campaign to deliver sustained services and permanent housing to 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless Americans. Common Ground has flipped the first come first serve approach to homeless care on its head by focusing on the most serious cases, which, though more difficult, can have a ripple effect on the affected community.
The fact remains that a major driver of the recent rise in homelessness has been the recession and the spike in unemployment. In fact from 2008 to 2009 the number of “poor households experiencing extreme cost burden” jumped by nine percent and the number of unemployed jumped by almost 60 percent.
How the Causes community is helping
At Causes decided to look inward and see what our nonprofit partners and individual members were doing to help address homelessness. What we found is inspiring and humbling.
Mark founded invisiblePeople.tv while fighting his own battle with homelessness. With a genuine personal perspective on the issue, Mark promotes awareness and catalyzes change by making the homeless more visible through film. Mark has gathered compelling footage and stories of the homeless, all of which can be found on his website.
In only a few years we have made history in changing the story of homelessness that has resulted in real change. Because of InvisiblePeople.tv housing programs have been started, feeding programs have been started; a farmer even donated 40 acres of land that is now being used to help feed low-income families in a public school system!
Literally, people who were once homeless will be sleeping inside tonight because of your continued support of InvisiblePeople.tv
Mark wasn’t the only person this month to dedicate his birthday to help the homeless. Earlier this month, Jon Bon Jovi created a Birthday Wish asking friends, family, and fans to donate to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation raising over $9,600. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation provides affordable housing and food for the homeless and proposes a more sustainable solution through social services and job training.
In addition to to these heartfelt Birthday Wishes, there are many successful campaigns on Causes that address the issues of homelessness. Birthday Wishes started by outstanding individuals, a group of nonprofits focused on helping shelters and empower people afflicted by homelessness have run successful campaigns to engage communities and raise money through Causes.
The South Oakland Shelter is using Causes to raise $20,000 to help reduce the impact and prevalence of homelessness in Metro Detroit. With a donation of just $10 dollars you can provide 3 meals and one night of shelter for a displaced person in need.
The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless created a cause, Make Room at the Inn: End Minnesota Homelessness is taking preventative measure to reduce the number of homeless by helping families before they become homeless with new aid and foreclosure prevention plans and guiding runaway and unsheltered youth toward a self-sufficient adulthood through education.
When young people walk through our gates, they are greeted with something few of them have experienced: unconditional love. Love that faces problems, acknowledges faults, and encourages their strengths. Love that is transforming communities…one young person at a time.
These are just a few examples of organizations that are using Causes to reverse the trend of increasing numbers of homeless people in America and there are many more that still deserve a shout out.