Tag Archives: working homeless

Poverty Remains Unchanged

by Dr. Chad Audi

The new U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty in America was neither encouraging nor discouraging. Statistics show the country’s median income and poverty rate in 2014 remained the same as the previous year.

If you’re a “glass half full” kind of person, the numbers are good news. But if you look at things through a “glass half empty” perspective, the report isn’t particularly positive.

Here in Detroit, where I operate Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), the news was especially disheartening. We were rated as the most impoverished major city in America with 39.3-percent living below the poverty line of $24,008 for a family of four.

DRMM and other organizations that assist the homeless and disadvantaged can pretty much predict the annual numbers by the amount of people we service. The Census numbers indicate the nation’s middle class and poor didn’t see any extra money last year. In other words, the economic recovery has not touched the needy.

Here at DRMM, we still see working families come in for a free dinner. Their paychecks don’t always stretch to cover a daily, balanced meal. We still provide basic needs and career training services for laid off workers who can’t make ends meet. And, we still find our shelters filled past capacity on many nights.

Addressing the needs of this country’s poor and hungry is one of the top issues that should dominate the agenda for next year’s presidential candidates. A group of 100 faith-based organizations calling themselves “Circle of Protection” has asked each candidate to create a short video outlining their plans for helping the disadvantaged. You can view the videos here.

I hope that you will show compassion toward the poor, just as God commanded that we give generously to the needy and speak on their behalf.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Lending a Helping Hand

by Dr. Chad Audi

Don’t you feel good when you are able to brighten someone’s day? Whether it’s helping with chores or providing transportation or paying another person’s bills, it makes the recipients —and you —feel so much better.

We, here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) and Working Homes/Working Families charity, are feeling great about being able to bring some joy to a young Detroit mother.

Simone Hearn is 24-years-old and fighting Stage 3 cancer. She is a working mother of three small children. At one point, her family was homeless. When a local television station told Simone’s story, viewers stepped up to offer assistance.

DRMM and Working Homes/Working Families saw her story and presented her with a renovated, furnished home in Detroit. That’s what we do — restore houses and place working families in need into the homes. They are only responsible for paying taxes and utilities and maintaining the home for two years; then they become the owners. There is no mortgage or rent.

We do this because we know it’s possible to have a job, but still not be able to make ends meet. Many of the people who come to DRMM for meals are in that situation. They work, but their meager paychecks do not stretch far enough to cover rent, utilities, food and other necessities of life.

Working Homes/Working Families saw the need — and the abundance of empty and abandoned homes in the city — and together with our committed volunteers, we transform the houses into a safe, clean living environment. Often, the houses are donated by owners who would rather see them used for a good cause than sitting empty.

Recently, we embarked on a large project to rebuild six houses in one east side neighborhood. Employees from Cooper Standard Foundation and DOW Elastomers volunteered with the renovation. The non-profit, Humble Design, provided furnishings and design services. So much joy is possible when we work together!

Meanwhile, Simone Hearn still has a lot to overcome, but it’s a little easier now that she and her children have a roof over their heads. That’s one less thing she has to worry about.

See Simone’s story at: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/29325512/homeless-detroit-mom-of-three-fighting-cancer-gets-free-home#

Dr. Chad Audi

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Winter’s Impact on the Homeless

by Dr. Chad Audi

Well, it was just a matter of time. We knew the wintry weather was coming, and now it’s here. A crippling blizzard just hit the East Coast and bitter cold temperatures have spread across the entire country over the past month.

This kind of weather sends the nation’s homeless on a desperate search for shelter and a hot meal. And, who can blame them? Men, women and children are flooding homeless shelters throughout the country — filling them to capacity. Ironically, New York City’s annual homeless census had to be postponed because of the historic storm that was forecast for that region.

For organizations like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), It’s important that we not only provide the homeless with a warm respite from the deadly winter weather, but that we also provide them with an opportunity to permanently change their circumstances and get on the road to a new life. Simply giving them a place to warm up and then eventually sending them back out into the cold is counterproductive to their growth and success as valuable citizens.

DRMM is doing what we can to save and rehabilitate lives. We have been around for 106 years. We know how to help the homeless, and we know how to serve them. Shelters, substance abuse treatment, mental health programs, and career training are all very important components in a homeless person’s journey from hopelessness to hope.

We don’t turn anyone away at DRMM, even if we have to put mattresses and blankets on the floor or set up extra chairs so that the homeless can rest and sleep.

For the homeless, winter is all about survival.
For us, it’s always about saving — and changing — lives!

Dr. Chad Audi

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What Would Dr. King Think?

by Dr. Chad Audi

As the nation pauses this month to honor the birthday of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I can’t help but wonder how Dr. King would feel about the current state of this world if he were alive today.

For example, what would he think about the condition of the civil rights movement?
How would he feel about the way justice is being delivered in this nation?
What would he think about the large number of people in this country who are homeless and poor?

Here at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we are honoring King’s legacy, life and compassion with a call to service.

We cannot let Dr. King’s dream die.

His birthday is more than a holiday. It’s a time when we all should ask ourselves what we can do to make this world more like Dr. King’s dream — one where no one is judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character. And a world where, as Dr. King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In honor of Dr. King and to demonstrate the compassion he possessed and preached about, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries helped two of our formerly homeless clients get a step closer to achieving their dreams. We surprised them both —presenting one woman with a car and the other with a house for her family.

We took the beliefs of Dr. King and transferred them into a generous, life-changing action that deeply touched two deserving individuals.

Now that’s something I’m sure he would have liked to witness had he been alive today.
DRMM is indeed guided by the inspirational sayings of Dr. King, especially this quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Ask yourself that question today.

Dr. Chad Audi

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The Holiday Spirit

 

by Dr. Chad Audi

In the spirit of the holidays, a Florida judge has presented a gift to 90-year-old Arnold Abbott. The elderly World War II veteran had been arrested and given several citations for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But, now the judge has temporarily halted the ordinance.

For several years, Mr. Abbott’s non-profit organization has fed the city’s homeless. Supporters from around the world empathized with Abbott and his efforts to make sure all of the city’s hungry were fed.

Although the nation’s homeless population is the most vulnerable to hunger, an estimated 50 million Americans go to bed and awake hungry, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. That’s an incredible number. And sadly, about one in five of them are children.

Here at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we serve thousands of people who are experiencing food insecurity. We feed more than 3,500 people each day. In addition to the homeless individuals in our shelters, we serve dinner to members of the community who can’t afford to eat regularly or provide nutritious meals for their families.

DRMM also reaches out to communities surrounding Detroit to help those in need. This holiday season, we donated food boxes to 50 families in the neighboring city of Dearborn, Michigan. The U.S. Census Bureau reports nearly 26-percent of that city’s population lives below the poverty level. Each food box included items such as turkey, beef, rice, cooking oil, seasonings and sugar — enough to last a family of six for two weeks. In total, the families have more than 150 children.

Won’t you open your hearts this holiday season and help us feed the hungry?

“For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25: 35)
Dr. Chad Audi

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Poverty in America

by Dr. Chad Audi

There’s good news and bad news concerning poverty in America. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the share of people living in poverty last year dropped ever so slightly — by half a percentage point — to 14.5 percent. While that may not seem like much progress, it is the first time the poverty rate has fallen since 2006. On the other hand, the rate is still 2 percentage points higher than it was back then.

The Census Bureau report indicates more people are working full-time jobs. But, the country’s median household income edged up only by about $180.

So, what does this mean for America’s economy? Since the recession of 2007-09, the climb back to economic recovery has been slow. Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have continued to see a newer category of people that we call the “working homeless” or the “working poor” come to our facilities for shelter and food.

They are employed parents who can’t afford to pay their utilities and feed their families, too. Or they are working families who were renting a home that fell into foreclosure, because the owner/landlord did not make the mortgage payments. Or they are individuals who were laid-off and forced to take lower paying jobs, but now cannot pay all of their bills.

It’s heartbreaking to me and the DRMM staff to see people in the food lines who have come directly from their job and are still in their work clothes. Most have never known what it’s like to stand in line at a homeless shelter for a meal. This is not the type of life they’ve led in the past, but their present economic situation has forced them to seek help. They are standing in line humbly, but inside they must be hurting.

It’s clear that the majority of families in this country have yet to see their incomes recover from the recession. As a result, the demand remains high on providers like Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. And, it will continue until poverty in America is eliminated.

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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