Monthly Archives: October 2010

Homeless Flock to Ann Arbor

By Dr. Chad Audi

A recent Detroit News report stated that Ann Arbor, Michigan is dealing with an influx of homeless people who have come to the city for refuge over the past several years. The increase is being attributed to Ann Arbor’s longtime reputation for being a city that embraces the poor. There are numerous social service agencies in the city, and University of Michigan students tend to be more generous toward the homeless who ask for money.

So what does this increase in the number of homeless mean for Ann Arbor? According to the Detroit News article, the police chief says panhandling was a huge problem this summer and he considers it the “Number one crime.” The city’s 75-bed homeless shelter has instituted a county residency requirement to discourage outsiders. To be admitted, the person’s last stable home address must be in Washtenaw County. And homeless tent camps have been erected by the “outsiders”— homeless individuals from other parts of Michigan.

It’s definitely an interesting situation. The homeless reportedly like Ann Arbor because of easy access to shelter, food, medical services and temporary job opportunities. Meanwhile, complaints have mounted from business owners and residents, and U of M students are being encouraged to give donations to organizations that help the homeless rather than to individuals.

At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we service people from all over, as do many homeless shelters in big cities. It doesn’t matter where they are from or where they lived last. We offer services that will help put the disadvantaged on the path to long term success, such as health care, job placement assistance, and vocational training. And of course, we provide for their immediate needs: food, shelter and clothing.

But the homeless apparently perceive that a smaller city, like Ann Arbor, is safer and receives more federal, state and local funding for social services. Regardless of the number of resources, the most important thing to remember is that we all must be good neighbors and provide the most comprehensive assistance possible to give hope to the homeless and needy.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

World Homeless Day

By Dr. Chad Audi

October 10, 2010 was a special day on the calendar because it denoted the one time that we can refer to: 10/10/10. There was much fanfare and media coverage about the date, as thousands of couples got married on what is believed to be a lucky day.

But there was something else happening on 10/10/10 that you probably didn’t hear much about. It marked the first World Homeless Day. The purpose is to draw attention to the needs of homeless people in your community and find ways to get involved and help.

The homeless numbers around the country are staggering: On any given night, there are an estimated 3.5 million homeless people in the U.S. And that number continues to rise as a result of an economic recession, job layoffs and home foreclosures.

The organizers behind World Homeless Day encouraged everyone to support local charities that help the homeless and to partner with schools, churches, service clubs, news outlets, and businesses to brainstorm ideas for fundraising and awareness projects. On the global front, organizers are offering to share great ideas with other countries in a collective effort to help the homeless.

It’s great to have an international day to focus attention on homelessness. But we need to be in a “World Homeless Day” frame of mind every day. Not just on the 10th day of the 10th month of the year. We live it every day here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), where thousands of men, women and children seek shelter. Ask yourself, how are you making a difference in the lives of the homeless?

1 Comment

Filed under General

Punished for Helping the Homeless

By Dr. Chad Audi

There was an article published recently on Foxsports.com that left me in disbelief. It stated that a high school coach in the Orlando, Florida area was suspended for housing one of his homeless student football players. According to the Orlando Sentinel and wftv.com, the coach moved the player in with him. However, the school considered that a violation of a Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) rule that prohibits school employees and athletic staff from promising or offering potential athletes in their program free or reduced-cost rent for housing. The school self-reported the violation and suspended the coach for one game, while the player is being held from games until a ruling is made by the FHSAA. Both the coach and school run the risk of being fined and the potential forfeiture of previous victories.

It appears to me the coach was following his heart and doing the right thing for the youth. What would have been the alternative? Allow him to live on the streets? Ironically, last year’s movie, “The Blind Side,” depicted a similar true story of a homeless teen taken in by a family who helps him succeed in school and on the football field. This heartfelt movie was a huge hit at the box office.

But the Florida story isn’t shaping up to have a happy ending. To be fair to the Osceola County School District, its regulations state the district will work with any homeless or displaced students — and employees should not get involved. And yes, there are thousands of agencies across the country like mine — Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) — that provide shelter, clothing and food for those with no where to go. We don’t turn anyone away.

So, the question remains: Should the Florida high school coach have referred his homeless student athlete to the school district for help, rather than stepping in to provide him with a home? What do you think?

1 Comment

Filed under General

Poverty Rate Increases

By Dr. Chad Audi

On the heels of a national report showing a rise in the number of homeless families in this country, we now get word that the U.S. poverty rate increased 14.3% in 2009 from the year before. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 4 million additional people were classified as below the poverty line — for a total of 44 million people.

The higher poverty rate is a direct result of the U.S. economic recession that began in December 2007 and has affected just about everyone. People are more apt to pinch pennies to protect their future, while others are suffering through job layoffs.

Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been much better. Although The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) recently announced that the recession officially ended in June 2009, we are continuing to see more and more people needing the human services we provide at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). Regardless of economic status, everyone needs the necessities of life: food, shelter and clothing.

The economic downturn also means that organizations like DRMM must be creative in order to provide these items to an increasing number of people, while having fewer resources than ever before. According to the New York Times, experts say the poverty numbers will continue to rise through the end of this year, based on an increasing number of food stamp recipients and rising demand at charitable food banks. Some people take issue with the notion that the recession is actually over. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing is very clear: It’s going to take a long time for the economy to get healthy again. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and we’ll need a lot of patience.

Leave a comment

Filed under General