Tag Archives: homeless count

Homeless Count

by Dr. Chad Audi

It’s that time of year again. Time to get a count of the nation’s homeless. The 2016 Point-in- Time Count just took place across the country. Tens of thousands of volunteers went out one night in January looking for the men, women and children who call the streets their home.

In addition to keeping a count, the volunteers attempt to get the homeless to seek shelter and assistance. But, if they refuse and insist on their freedom, the volunteers provide them with life-saving items such as blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, socks, food, and hygiene kits.

The homeless who do accept the offer are taken to shelters like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). They can warm up, get a hot meal and shower, clean clothes and a bed to sleep in overnight. However, some of the homeless return to the streets the next morning with no interest in finding transitional and permanent housing or treating their mental health and substance abuse issues. For some, a fear of authority and obeying rules sends them back to their outdoor home.

In addition to searching the streets, the Point-in-Time Count volunteers look for the homeless in shelters and vehicles parked in 24-hour store parking lots. Any place where the homeless may go to hide from the cold and authorities.

The purpose of this one day count is to get a better picture of the extent of homelessness in this country. The data is collected and used for the allocation of federal grants to help provide housing and case management services for the homeless.

Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and that’s why we at DRMM work so diligently to provide the homeless with the tools they need to permanently escape life on the streets and become productive citizens sharing in the American Dream.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Caring People Do Exist

by Dr. Chad Audi

Make no mistake about it. There are still good people in this world. Take for instance, Juanita Vega of New York. She made headlines recently when she paid for the funeral of a homeless man whom she would always see in the neighborhood surrounding the Manhattan bank where she worked. Many mornings, Juanita had to awaken Richard Coleman as he slept in the vestibule of the bank. Richard had been a fixture in the area for nearly 20 years.

One day, after not seeing Richard for weeks, she learned from an online news site that the 62-year-old man had died. Rather than see him buried at the city’s public cemetery, Potter’s Field, Juanita pulled a lot of strings and used her own money to honor Richard one final time with a funeral and burial in a New Jersey cemetery.

Juanita is an example of a person who did something out of the goodness of her heart. Random acts of kindness, like hers, help to shine a light on the plight of the homeless.

You, too, can make a difference in the lives of our nation’s homeless through your local shelter or rescue mission. Donate care packages containing toiletries and other everyday necessities that we often take for granted. Volunteer your time to help serve meals or teach a vocational class. If you have construction or interior design skills, offer to give a facelift to  transitional and permanent housing facilities by painting, renovating or decorating. Make a cash gift to the organization to help with the multitude of expenses associated with caring for the homeless and putting them on a permanent path to success.

In addition, you can have a huge impact on the self-esteem of the homeless by treating them with dignity and respect. Acknowledge their value as human beings. They will appreciate your caring attitude and always remember your kindness.

by Dr. Chad Audi

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The Plight of Homeless Children

by Dr. Chad Audi

Often, when people think of homelessness, they forget about the impact it has on children. The number of homeless students in this country is growing. According to the National Center for Homeless Education, homeless student enrollment has risen steadily since the recession hit in 2007. As of the 2011-12 school year, the number of homeless schoolchildren reached an all-time high of 1.2 million. That is an unbelievable number!

Of course, there are many reasons for the increase — most of which can be attributed to the lingering economic downturn, such as layoffs, a lack of affordable housing, income inequality, and home foreclosures.

What makes matters worse is that even though the homeless numbers have increased, federal funding designated for homeless students has decreased. As a result, local and state social service agencies don’t have the money to provide adequate resources for the growing number of children and families seeking help.

Here at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we are servicing more families in need every day. Families make up 49% of the homeless persons in our city each year. They come to us for emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, food, clothing, recreational activities, and academic support. We, like other similar organizations, have been impacted by cuts in federal, state and local funding. Often, we have to depend upon the generosity of our donors in order to provide resources for families.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Education Act, school districts receive funding to help provide support to homeless students and their families. Districts are required to enroll homeless children — even though they don’t have a permanent address — and transport them to and from school. If the children are already enrolled in a school, they must be allowed to remain there.

Homeless students face different kinds of issues in the classroom. Children living in a crowded shelter or “doubled up” with relatives or friends are more likely to not get enough sleep. That makes it difficult for them to concentrate on their lessons. Some children may only get nutritious meals when they go to school. And, budget cuts have reduced the number of social workers available to counsel homeless students in school.

Perhaps the saddest realization of all is that these children are innocent victims. They can’t change their circumstances. No child should ever be homeless.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Homeless Numbers Drop

by Dr. Chad Audi

I read with interest the recent news that the number of homeless Americans has steadily dropped since 2005. According to a study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the number of homeless people has quietly fallen by 17-percent. The drop comes despite the nation’s recession and a slow recovery in the job market.

Although on the surface this is encouraging news, the fact remains that the total number of homeless Americans stood at an estimated 634,000 individuals last year. I’m sure no one would argue that number is still staggering. However, it does represent a drop of nearly 130,000 people over seven years.

Another amazing statistic comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The agency reports that since 2009 there has been a 17-percent reduction in the number of homeless military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says it is on track to meet its daunting goal of ending homelessness for veterans by 2015.

So what do these statistics tell us? It tells us that our poorest citizens are slowly getting a foothold in the economy. Some of the decline can be attributed to President Barack Obama’s stimulus programs that poured more federal money into housing, medical and mental services, and preventative measures.

Of course, we all hope this decrease in American homelessness continues. However, sequestration is already threatening to reverse the downward trend. Federal spending reductions impact organizations like ours, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), and the homeless individuals we serve.

DRMM continues to see a steady stream of individuals who are in need of shelter, food, clothing and job readiness. Some are homeless because of economic circumstances. Others have substance abuse and mental health issues that keep them chronically homeless. We believe the only way to put an end to homelessness is to treat individuals holistically. We treat their minds, bodies and souls. It’s not enough to just give the homeless a handout. We are rebuilding lives by providing life’s necessities and training our clients to become self-sufficient and productive citizens.

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Counting the Homeless

By Dr. Chad Audi

Later this month, the nation’s homeless population will be counted in a mass effort required every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Called the “Point-in-Time Count,” volunteer teams will fan out after dark in cities across the country to locate, interview and count the homeless who are living in the streets and in shelters. Based on the findings, HUD will set funding levels for shelters and other agencies assisting the homeless.

Here in Detroit, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) takes an active role in the nationwide count. Working in partnership with the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), we are providing volunteers and a staging area for them before they spread out over Detroit. Numerous other service agencies and community and civic leaders will also participate.

This year’s count will undoubtedly shed light on whether the economic recession has resulted in a rise in homelessness. For the first time, volunteers will take a detailed census of homeless veterans and unaccompanied children under the age of eighteen. It also provides an opportunity to inform the homeless of the assistance that is available to them and to distribute care packages containing items such as food, blankets, socks and hygiene products.

As an agency working with the homeless, next week’s count is extremely important. We have seen an increase in the people we serve, so an accurate count will help us get the necessary resources to address the issue more effectively and permanently. The data that is collected through the interviews will also help us promote real change in people’s lives.

Volunteers are still needed across the country to help in the count. Experienced leaders will accompany the teams. Contact your county or local service agencies to find out how you can get involved. Every person counts!

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Make the Homeless Count

By Dr. Chad Audi

By now, you have probably received your 2010 U.S. Census form in the mail. And as I wrote in an earlier blog, one of the big challenges this year is to count the nation’s homeless. The U.S. Census Bureau is holding a homeless count program called “Make the Homeless Count,” on March 29 through 31. Over the three nights, enumerators will count people living in shelters and temporary housing, those eating at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, and others who are staying at outdoor locations.

Cities across the country are holding events to coincide with the census effort and help boost the homeless count. For example, Los Angeles is collecting donated socks and food that will be given to the homeless on March 30. Indeed, it is important that no one is overlooked in this year’s census. Not only do the final numbers impact how much federal funding states receive and determine political representation for communities, but the count will also raise awareness about the prevalence of homelessness across the country. Some of those federal funds are allocated to homeless assistance programs. So it is imperative that an accurate count is taken and that we do all we can to make sure no one is left out.

Social service agencies such as ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), are being encouraged by the U.S. Census Bureau to inform and guide those individuals who look to us for information and assistance. It may mean explaining the importance of the Census to a homeless person who is reluctant to take part. Or it could mean providing information on areas where homeless people are known to sleep outside. Or assuring the homeless that the results are confidential.

It’s all a part of what we do — work to improve the lives and welfare of others. Making the homeless count will ultimately result in getting more people off the street.

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Counting the Homeless in the 2010 Census

By Dr. Chad Audi

The 2010 U.S. Census is shaping up to be the biggest and most comprehensive effort ever in our history. An estimated 140,000 Census workers and 145 million housing units will be involved in the count that takes place every ten years and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

There’s something new in the 2010 Census. It will be the first time that hard-to-reach populations will be counted, such as the homeless living in shelters and on the streets, as well as those in dormitories, group homes and prisons. Another change involves the formerly extensive Census questionnaire, which has been revamped into a simple 10-question survey.

For non-profits that serve the homeless and needy, such as the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), it is imperative that we are prepared, trained and equipped to make sure that all constituents are counted. The entire community needs to be educated on the importance of the Census and how it impacts the amount of federal funding and stimulus money received by municipalities and states. The more people in a state, the more funding that state gets. Some of the federal money is awarded to agencies that provide critical services assisting the homeless and disadvantaged. The Census also determines the number of Congressional seats states are allowed. An increase in population means a state may gain more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. So as you see, getting an accurate count is vital.

The 2010 Census begins in March. Stand up and be counted. Make this Census a success.

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