The last episode of IN Focus aired August 2013; the page below is an archive.
The WFIU/WTIU news team continues its coverage of local and regional issues
in a new weekly program, Indiana Newsdesk.
December 17, 2009
Poverty and Homelessness
Challenges Facing the Indiana Welfare System
Indiana leaders face a big transition, as they try to fix the problems with privitizing the Federal Social Services Administration in the Hoosier State.Watch Video »View Article
The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that between 2 ½ to 3½ million people in the United States are homeless. Federal guidelines define poverty as a family of 4 with an annual income of $22,050 or less. According to the most recent Census Bureau, Monroe county has the highest proverty rate in Indiana at 26%. With the downturn of the economy, lack of health insurance and job loss many Hoosiers are having a hard time making ends meet.
Recently the Family Social Security Administration cut its IBM contract, which has left the agency with less funds to assist those in need. FSSA Communications Director, Marcus Barlow said the IBM system placed people in tasks instead of looking at them as individuals. Barlow also said government leaders have met with employees, advocates and individuals all over the state to improve the new hybrid system. Executive Director of Bloomington Housing Authority, Jennifer Osterholt said the inability for clients to easily access support and services has also caused some families to become homeless.
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Living Homeless or in Poverty
A look at the current state of homelessness in South-Central Indiana.Watch Video »View Article
Bill Ferry, Case Manager for PATH said he spends a lot of time with community agencies and in the field. A consistent problem for many homeless people is the avialability of space in shelters. Ferry said that only about 5% of homeless people are substance abusers; and the majority of the homeless population consists of families. Ferry believes the reason people become homeless is because of a series of misfortunes, which leads to “a self-feeding cycle.”
Some of the proposed solutions to tackle the problem is more space and more funding for services. BHA Executive Director Jennifer Osterholt said the homeless population overwhelms the resources. Although three guests suggested increasing funds for programs and services, FSSA Communications Director Marcus Barlow said there are no funds to put into the system. State revenues are down an estimated $300 million. Dan Combs, Perry Township Trustee stated the state has left local taxes to fund services and there is not enough money. Ferry also said another reason people fall victim to homelessness is because they don’t know how to access services that will assist them.
Abraham Morales, a homeless veteran said most people have stereotypes of homeless people. Morales explained how people walked by him on the streets of Bloomington looking at him like ‘you dirty bum.’ Morales considers himself a drifter and is awaiting assistance for a veteran voucher, which would provide him with housing.
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Programs Available to Help Hoosiers in Need
Panelists discuss programs for the impoverished and homeless in South-Central Indiana.Watch Video »View Article
The Blooomington Housing Authority has major programs that assist families living in poverty include public housing, affordable housing and a rent assistance program. When BHA announced its rent assistance program they received over 500 applications and people lined up outside of the office before it opened its doors. According to BHA Director Jennifer Osterholt, BHA implemented a new program for homeless veterans, which provides a total of 35 vouchers to assist with housing.
Osterholt said they receive federal funding which affects how many families they can assist. She also said with the new White House administration they have received more funds than they have in the past 8 years. Osterholt believes employment is the direct cause for homelesness. Perry Township Trustee Dan Combs said housing cost is the other part of the equation. Combs said even if everyone had a job, if they can’t afford housing they will become homeless. Combs said housing costs in Bloomington rise every year.
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