April 16, 2011

Florida Court Ruling Avoiding the Problem...

It has been decided that law in Orlando, FL can limit feeding the homeless in public areas as of this week.  This obvioulsy does not address the problems that cause homelessness, it simply tries to force the homeless out of town and out of sight.  What are the reasons behind passing a law such as this?  How does it hurt our efforts to provide effective services to end homelessness?


FY 2011 The Verdict for Housing Projects

       So it looks like homelessness was not dealt the huge blow of the governement axe but will remained well funded for the most part. The McKinney-Vento programs saw an amazing increase of 40 million that will make the total funding of these programs 1.905 billion dollars. This was a huge win for all the programs that are funded through McKinney-Vento. I believe that all of the supporters that contacted their congressman to let them know how important it is to actively pursue funding for Homelessness programs impacted the outcome we saw in a positive way. There is absolutely no way that this amount of increase would have been considered if constituents hadn't been active in this venture.
     Some of the other things to consider with the new budget are that there was an increase that enables an estimated 7,690 additional homeless veterans to have a place to live. This was due to the 50 million dollars that was awarded to the the HUD and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing programs to help alleviate this tragedy of our veterans living on the streets or in unsuitable conditions. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act saw their funding remain the same at 116 million dollars leaving the ability to fund this program intact.Section-8 Tenant Based Rental Assistance have the ability to fund all existing vouchers with the funding of 18.4 billion dollars.  The community development block grant saw a decrease in its funding to 3.3 billion dollars and no funding for Housins and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration vouchers. Overall with all of the cuts that were made to the FY 2011 budget this is a strong show of support from congress that they see the need to keep homelessness at the forefront of all programs funded. The next step is activism for the FY 2012 bill.

April 14, 2011

Everyone Deserves to be Visible

One of our goals of this project is to increase others' awareness of homelessness and how we can all be a part of changing the services out there to help people experiencing homelessness.  Unless we have experienced homelessness ourselves, it can be easy to turn the other way and ignore the people we see sleeping on the streets.  And if we live in a more rural area, maybe we don't see very many homeless individuals so do not think too much about it.  By reading this blog and the information we post, we would like others to see the struggles the homeless population faces and the need for us all to be their voice. 

We can help bring attention to the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness by participating in sleep outs coordinated by college campuses and local organizations.  The National Coalition for the Homeless organizes the Homeless Challenge- 48 hours with no shelter, food, or money.  The Challenge takes place throughout the year in Washington D.C., although other cities have a form of this kind of program.  The goal is to increase the awareness of homelessness and gain a new perspective on how we all can help.  Please read the stories of two student's experiences during the Challenge:


Participating in an activity such as the Homeless Challenge or volunteering at our own local organization is one way to educate ourselves on the needs of the homeless.  To find a service organization near you, the National Coalition for the Homeless provides this link:

April 13, 2011

Seeing is Believing

Here are some YouTube videos discussing the issue of homelessness and sharing information and stats. Sometimes seeing people makes it really hit home...because then it is real. When you can attach faces to something like homelessness, you can really feel the weight of the problem. I think that politicians may need to see videos like these...



Have watching these changed your opinion on the homeless population? Why do YOU think people are homeless? Why do you think there isn't more being done to address this issue?

April 9, 2011

It Could Happen to You

As we continue to share policies, laws, bills, and advocacy opportunities with you, we also want to share with you information on the issue of homelessness including statistics, stories, articles, and other materials to help you understand the scope of the issue and why there needs to be more help for those living on the streets and in shelters. We believe that awareness is one of the best forms of advocacy and want you to know and be educated on what you are choosing to help us support and why.

The demographics of the homeless population include a diverse group of people. Men, women, children, families, people with disabilities, teenagers, pregnant women, and older adults are all subject the becoming homeless at some point in their lives. Homelessness also touches people of all races, sexual orientation, and cultural background. Because the threat of becoming homeless looms over every single person's head and can become a reality in one single tragedy, it is important for the country to look at it from a preventative stance and create programs that help those suffering from homelessness get their lives back.

According to the Interagency Council on Homelessness, on a single night in January 2009, 110,917 people were sleeping on the streets. Also, the number of homeless people in shelters increased by 5% from 2008 to 2009, and 41% of those people are considered to be "Chronically Homelss". The specific demographics of this study showed that 75%-80% of the chronically homeless were men. The average age is 50 and most homeless women are mothers. The race with the largest number of homeless people are African Americans. Possibly one of the most saddening statistics from this study is that the majority of the homeless population has no health insurance at all, but are most likely eligible for Medicaid. If anything, there should be at least more of a focus on helping these people get access to health insurance they are entitled to.

Studies also show that there are common contributing factors to why people become homeless. 60% of the population has a current or past mental illness and a whopping 80% have a substance abuse problem. This is another area in which the government can take more preventative measures to help address these issues for individuals BEFORE they become homeless. Also, if they are homeless and suffer from these things, it is important that they are getting help for them because without it, they will be forced to remain on the streets.
***All the above information came from this website courtesy of the Interagency Council on Homelessness ( June 2010) http://www.usich.gov/PDF/OpeningDoors/BkgrdPap_ChronicHomelessness.pdf

In order to help solve this massive issue in our society, there needs to be more supports offered and supported by the government. People need access to health and mental health services. They also need availability to job training and schooling so they can get a job and a source of income. Once there is an income in place, they need affordable housing. And probably the most important thing they need is case management and continuation of supports so that they can maintain their standard of living and prevent the risk of recurring and chronic homelessness. Simply offering temporary shelters and programs are not going to help them to rehabilitate the underlying issues that led them to where they are in the first place.

In order to get this kind of support and these types of programs created or those already in place built upon, there needs to be outreach, networking, and sharing of information with politicians and national and local agencies that are key players in the world of homelessness.Our goal of this project is to not only inform you of why homelessness is such a severe and prominent problem in the United States, but also to inspire you to help in our effort to alert those who "make the call" on bills, policies, and programs. We need as many voices as we can muster to help get our plight heard.

April 7, 2011

Being a Part of Change

The first step in making a difference is knowing where there are opportunities to help.  One of our goals in creating this site is to spread the word about upcoming events and legislation that needs immediate attention. We mentioned in the first post the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and advocacy is needed right now to get funds approved for these grants.  The funds will pay for new community resources to help the homeless population.  We can support the McKinney-Vento Appropriations Campaign by calling our Senators and Representatives and urge them to sign on.  A place to start can be found at this site where you can find your local representatives and contact them:
We will post more information on how to be a part of this campaign and its progress as it becomes available.

In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness is planning the 2011 National Conference for Ending Homelessness.  On the organization's site there is an opportunity to request to be a volunteer for various positions at the conference, which is held in Washington DC.  All volunteers receive complimentary registration so this is a cost free way to learn more about the Alliance and be an active part of educating others on the issues surrounding homelessness.  Please see this link for more information:

We will post more events as we learn about them in hopes that we all can act together to end homelessness.