By Dr. Chad Audi
A new report on the State of Homelessness in America 2011 shows the nation’s recession is continuing to have an impact on the number of people who have nowhere to call home. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there was a three percent increase in the country’s homeless population from 2008 to 2009. Hardest hit were families, and the main economic reasons stemmed from unemployment, foreclosure, income, and the burden of housing costs. The report also investigated the demographic drivers of homelessness. Among them are aging out of foster care, release from incarceration, doubled up living situations, and lack of insurance.
Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we too have seen an increase in the number of families seeking shelter, food and other human services. Overall, the demand for our services has risen thirty percent. We also understand the challenges faced by men and women who leave the prison system after several years and are suddenly confronted with a transformed society. Often they are released with no housing, transportation or jobs. That’s why we work with the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI) to help newly-released prisoners transition back to the community. DRMM services begin before the prisoners are discharged. Our staff visits with them at the jails and prisons to work out a transition plan. We match up many of the former prisoners with church mentors to provide spiritual nourishment. Those who are homeless receive shelter and transitional housing at our facilities. And they are placed in transitional jobs and job training.
DRMM is doing the best we can to address the needs of the whole individual in order to bring lasting change. And without a doubt, preventing homelessness is a key component in America’s economic recovery.