Is there any ways that really help the homeless? Does handing the panhandler a dollar do any good? Are you looking for the quick help or do you want to help solve the solution? The biggest problem is the homeless are not a group of the same person so their problems are not the same so the same solution will not work for everybody.
First off the reason for their homelessness is not the same. Yes some are due to addictions – both alcohol and drugs. Others have psychological issues. And then the fastest growing segment is those running from spousal abuse. And some simply have out spent their income and ended up on the streets with the downward spiral that leads to loss of job and loss of everything else.
So you have 2 avenues to help – the long term solution and the short term fix. The long term solution includes finding them jobs and affordable housing. The long term solution also focuses on fixing the other issues – the addictions, the psychological and emotional help, career and family counseling. So the long term solutions help with economic means to get them off the streets and the mental issues to help them cope so they don’t end up back on the street.
But since most people only want a short quick answer we will now comment on the ways to help the homeless deal with their everyday issues. Though these solutions are vital to them surviving they do nothing to help get them off the Street – they help them deal with the street.
What do you do when you see someone holding up a sign, “Will Work for Food”? Do you roll down your window and give them money? Do you pretend you didn’t see them? Nobody likes to be confronted by the homeless – their needs often seem too overwhelming – but we all want to treat them fairly and justly.
Here are some simple guidelines to equip you to truly help the homeless people you meet:
First off please do not give money to the homeless. If you want to donate money give it to the shelter that takes care of them. Too often, well intended gifts are converted to drugs or alcohol – even when the “hard luck” stories they tell are true. If the person is hungry, buy them a sandwich and a beverage. Taking time to talk to a homeless person in a friendly, respectful manner can give them a wonderful sense of civility and dignity. And besides being just neighborly, it gives the person a weapon to fight the isolation, depression and paranoia that many homeless people face.
The homeless are as diverse as the colors of a rainbow. The person you meet may be battered women, an addicted veteran; someone who is lacking job skills…the list goes on. Please do not treat them ALL as addicts – the addicted old homeless man we all pictures is only 25% of the population. So try and treat them with respect – remember they are still people too as you deal with them help them to help themselves. Take them to the appropriate homeless shelter. Most shelters offer immediate food and shelter to the homelessness through their emergency shelters. Many offer long-term rehabilitation programs that deal with the root causes of homeless. Many also offer “tickets” that can be given to homeless people which can be exchanged at the shelter for a notorious meal, safe overnight lodging, and the option of participating in a rehab program. Exposure to the elements, dirt, occasional violence, and lack of purpose all drain years from a person’s life. God can use your prayers and the brutality and the futility of life of the street to bring many of the broken to Himself. So please pray for the homeless.
So you want to do little more. Their immediate needs are the basics – food, clothes, and shoes. So you can take food to the homeless shelters. Get with your local grocery store and ask if you can have the daily leftovers and date expired food. Take to the shelter. If you like set up a weekly trip and take them enough food every week – now you are making a big difference. Take along your kids. Another great way to help is to take your extra shoes, coats and clothes. Have a clothes drive in your neighborhood, Do it on a monthly basis – if you like – the homeless residents next month are most likely not the homeless residents who were there this month.
The homeless in America are growing at a rapid rate and we all need to pitch in and help. Listed below are some staggering facts in regard to the homeless numbers and their conditions:
1. Family Homelessness: A New Social Problem
Except during the Great Depression, women and children have never been on our nation’s streets in
significant numbers. During the 1980’s, cutbacks in benefits coupled with rapidly increasing rents and a dearth of low-income housing jeopardized the stability of all people with reduced or fixed incomes. At the same time, the number of female-headed households dramatically increased. As a result, the nation’s population of homeless families swelled from almost negligible numbers to nearly 40% of the overall homeless population today. The United States in unique among industrialized nations in that women and children comprise such a large percentage of our country’s homeless.
2. More Than One Million Homeless Children
Although counting the exact number of homeless children is difficult, a consensus is emerging among researchers. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 1.2 million children are homeless on any given night. Supporting this figure are estimates from the U.S. Department of Education that report almost 400,000 homeless children were served by the nation’s public schools last year. Since more than half of all homeless children are under the age of 6 and not yet in school, a minimum of 800,000 children can be presumed to be homeless. On the basis of these data, the National Center on Family Homelessness concludes that more than one million American children are homeless today.
3. Family Homelessness Will Increase
Looking beyond current numbers, The National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) predicts that
tight housing markets accompanied by decreasing availability of cash benefits as a result of welfare
reform will lead to an increase in family homelessness. To determine which states will have the biggest problem, NCFH created an index of seven risk factors for family homelessness. These factors were identified from epidemiological research conducted over the past ten years. The ranking of states is presented in the report.
1. Homelessness Makes Children Sick
Researchers from NCFH have isolated homelessness as a direct predictor of specific childhood illnesses.
o Are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children and four times as often as children whose families earn more than $35,000 a year.
o Have higher rates of low birth weight and need special care right after birth four times as often as other children.
o Have very high rates of acute illness, with half suffering from two or more symptoms during a single month.
o Have twice as many ear infections, five times more diarrhea and stomach problems, and six times as many speech and stammering problems.
o Are four times more likely to be asthmatic.
o Go hungry at more than twice the rate of other children.
2. Homelessness Wounds Young Children
Every day, homeless children are confronted with stressful, often traumatic events.
o 74% of homeless children worry they will have no place to live.
o 58% worry they will have no place to sleep.
o 87% worry that something bad will happen to their family.
Within a single year:
o 97% of homeless children move, many up to three times.
o More than 30% are evicted from their housing.
o 22% are separated from their family to be put in foster care or sent to live with a relative.
o Almost 25% have witnessed acts of violence within their family.
The constant barrage of stressful and traumatic experiences has profound effects on the cognitive and emotional development of homeless children.
o Homeless babies show significantly slower development than other children do.
o More than one-fifth of homeless children between 3 and 6 years of age have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care.
o Homeless children between 6 and 17 years struggle with very high rates of mental health problems.
o Less than one-third of homeless children are receiving mental health treatment.
3. Homelessness Devastates Families
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, now accounting for almost 40% of the nation’s homeless. More than 85% of homeless families are headed by single mothers, with the average homeless family comprised of a young mother and her two young children, most of whom are below the age of 6 years.
Homeless mothers have an average annual income of under $8000, living at 63% of the federal poverty level for a family of three.
o Only 21% of homeless mothers receive money from family, partners, or friends.
o 39% have been hospitalized for medical treatment.
o 22% have asthma, compared to 5% of other women under 45 years.
o 20% have anemia, compared to 2% of other women under 45 years.
o 40% report alcohol or drug dependency at some time in their lives.
Although 70% of fathers of homeless children are in touch with their children, most do not live with the family. The downward spiral into homelessness for a child is often accelerated if a father loses his job, becomes injured or ill, has a bout with alcohol or drugs, or is involved with the criminal justice system.
o 50% of fathers are unemployed.
o 43% have problems with drugs or alcohol.
o 31% have physical or mental health problems.
o 32% are in jail or on probation.
Homeless children are at particularly high risk for being placed in foster care; 12% of homeless children are placed in foster care compared to just over 1% of other children. The National Center on Family Homelessness has identified placement in foster care as one of only two childhood risk factors that predicts family homelessness during adulthood.
o 44% of homeless mothers lived outside of their homes at some point during their childhood; 20% of these women were placed in foster care.
o 70% of homeless mothers placed in foster care as children have had at least one of their own children in foster care.
The frequency of violence in the lives of homeless mothers is staggering.
o 63% have been violently abused by an intimate male partner.
o 27% have required medical treatment because of violence by an intimate male partner.
o 25% have been physically or sexually assaulted during adulthood by someone other than an intimate partner.
o 66% were violently abused by a childhood caretaker or other adult in the household before reaching 18.
o 43% were sexually molested as children.
When the violence from their childhood is combined with their experiences as adults, 92% of homeless
mothers have been severely physically or sexually assaulted; 88% have been violently abused by a family
member or intimate partner. These repeated acts of brutality result in unusually high rates of serious
emotional problems among homeless mothers.
o 36% have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; three times the rate of other women.
o 45% have had a major depressive disorder, twice the rate of other women.
o 31% have attempted suicide at least once, primarily during adolescence.
o 12% have been hospitalized for treatment of mental illness.
Among homeless children:
o 8% have been physically abused, twice the rate of other children.
o 8% have been sexually abused; three times the rate of other children.
o 35% have been the subject of a child protection investigation.
o 24% have witnessed acts of violence within their family.
o 15% have seen their father hit their mother.
o 11% have seen their mother abused by a male partner.
4. Homeless Children Struggle in School
Despite state and federal efforts to provide homeless children with improved access to public school, at least one-fifth of homeless children do not attend school.
Homelessness takes children far away from their own schools and classmates. For many homeless
o There is no transportation from shelters to school.
o Improvised living arrangements are too short to make enrolling in a new school worthwhile.
o Lack of academic and medical records creates obstacles to registration.
o Daily demands of finding food and shelter push children’s educational needs aside.
Homeless children who manage to attend school face discouraging barriers to their academic success.
o Homeless children have four times the average rate of delayed development.
o Have more academic problems that other children.
o Are under served by special education.
o Are suspended twice as often as other children.
Among homeless children, there is twice the number of students with learning disabilities and three times
the number of students with emotional and behavioral problems.
Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade.
o 21% of homeless children repeat a grade because of frequent absence from school, compared to 5% of other children.
o 14% repeat a grade because they have moved to a new school, compared to 5% of other children.
Within a single year:
o 40% of homeless children attend two different schools.
o 28% attend three or more different schools.
So they need your help. Start with the short term help – provide food and clothes or shoes, And as you get involved start thinking of ways to help with the long term needs. With the current economic conditions its only going to get worse, And more help will be needed, And when you picture the homeless please picture the homeless child and not the drunken, pan handling bum. That homeless child so desperately needs your help .