February 24, 2011
WTIU InFocus on Homelessness: Poverty Increase
Panel experts explain the ongoing dilemma of poverty and homelessness in Bloomington. In addition to this there is a discussion of ways to combat this issue.Watch Video »View Article
In January, The United States Department of Housing and Development awarded 1.4 billion dollars to nearly seven thousand local homeless assistance programs. Homelessness can result from a lack of work or increasing medical care costs.
WTIU’s Shameka Neely reports, “The United States Department of Housing and Development estimates seven hundred and thirty thousand Americans are homeless.” Neely goes on to ask the ongoing question, “With a continued focus on education and health care reform, is homelessness an important issue to the government?”
Dr. David Reingold, Executive Associate Dean for SPEA at Indiana University replies by saying, “One of the areas that government is most needed is helping those that are most in need, and if our government isn’t going to be in a position to help those that actually are without a place to live, then it seems to me that I’m not quite sure what the role of government is.” Reingold believes that the cause to homelessness is not centered on the idea that there is a shortage of local housing, or the condition of the local economy, but a factor relating to the functionality of the dynamics of a family.
Dan Combs, Perry Township Trustee, disagreed with Reingold’s statement that homelessness isn’t caused by local economic situations by claiming that “Bloomington has the lowest wages, the highest housing cost in the state, a single parent cannot do that, it’s just not simple, unless you have a very high degree or a very high set of skills you just cannot keep a household going in Monroe County.”
Agreeing with Combs is Dr. Katharine Byers, Director of the Bloomington BSW Program. Byers argues that “Homelessness is very complex. There are a number of factors that could operate in determining whether I could become homeless or not. A lot of it has to do with the environment people live in.” The cost of housing, low wages, and support systems could also be reasons that lead to poverty. Byers believes that the numbers that were quoted are inaccurate since they are not comprised of the families who continuously move from place to place. Homelessness statistics can be hard to measure because of the needs of all of the people who make up a population.
The city of Bloomington has seen an increase in the amount of families who, because of economic situations, have had to move into homeless shelters in the last year. According to Sue Lamborn, the Director of Independent Living with Human Services, Inc., more families are coming to their organization that hadn’t been there before. Lamborn says, “We have seen an increase in the amount of shelter people, and families that we’re seeing in the last year. It’s gone up at least by fifteen families.”
Joel Rekas, Executive Director for the Shalom Center responds to the matter of homelessness by saying, “With respect to homelessness, the certain issue, the principle predictor, of individuals and families becoming homeless is extreme poverty, and one thing that is surprising to many that live and visit in this community, is that Monroe County has consistently had one of the highest poverty rates for many years now running.” Monroe County continues the process to try and find a solution to combat the issue of homelessness.
Tags: assistance programs, Bloomington, Bloomington BSW Program, Dan Combs, David Reingold Ph.D., funding, government involvement, healthcare reforms, homelessness, homelessness statistics, Inc., Independent Living with Human Services, Joel Rekas, Katharine Byers Ph.D., local economic situations, Monroe County, Perry Township Trustee, Shalom Center, Shameka Neely, SPEA, Stan Jastrzebski, Sue Lamborn
Homelessness: Importance of Funding and Services
Experts discuss programs and funding that are currently being provided and any new approaches that may need to be taken.Watch Video »View Article
Experts say that homelessness can’t be generalized. “You have to be careful that you don’t adopt a ‘one size fits all’ funding approach,” Dan Combs, Perry Township Trustee, goes on to say “What I think is more key than having a funding source is having a network, a really viable network, of providers who each is serving a niche of this population.” Whether a person is homeless from a lack of education or a lack of transportation are two different issues and must be addressed as such.
Poverty is the main factor, but experts say there are many directions in which to bring impoverished individuals in the direction of stability. It is not about trying to solve the issue of homelessness, but to provide shelter, food, transportation, mental health and drug rehabilitation programs. Sue Lamborn, Director of Independent Living with Human Services, Inc., says “we do that with something called the family matrix. We look at all the different areas in their life.” It gives a more specific approach to the issue with a psycho-social evaluation that can better pull together the resources needed.
Robin Porter, a single mother dealing with transitional housing and lack of funding, says she sees a flaw in the way in which homelessness is dealt. “That’s something that they really need to work on, as far as a six month waiting list for a mother that’s trying to work or go to school, if she doesn’t have family to help her out, is definitely an issue.” Porter had the difficult decision between caring for her family and providing herself with an education.
According to Joel Rekas, Executive Director of the Shalom Center says that this is not an isolated occurrence. “I think the numbers are far beyond what people can imagine in terms of those who may need assistance both now and in the future.” The commitment of caring individuals that volunteer and provide programs are necessary to continue tackling the issue of homelessness.
Tags: Dan Combs, family matrix, funding, homelessness resources, Inc., Independent Living with Human Services, Joel Rekas, Perry Township Trustee, Robin Porter, Shalom Center, Shameka Neely, Stan Jastrzebski, Sue Lamborn
Prevention and Ending the Cycle of Homelessness
The panel discusses problems with veterans finding jobs to support their families and keep their homes. Also the possibility of future prevention programs.Watch Video »View Article
Dr. Katherine Byers , Director of the Bloomington BSW Program says “One of the many things I think people don’t realize are the number of veterans who are homeless and their complex issues relating to how they become homeless.” It is all too common to see veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder as well as an inadequate support system with a less than welcoming job market.
Many people who are homeless are working, but either the job doesn’t pay enough to support their expenses or their skill set only allows them to work in certain field with lower income jobs. Sue Lamborn, Director of Independent Living with Human Services Inc., says “I have people tell me that they are one paycheck away from becoming homeless. That’s how close many people are in our communities of having this happen to them.”
Dan Combs, Perry Township Trustee, claims “It’s counterintuitive where homeless families come from sometimes. You see people in very dire straits in very nice housing.” Many families must choose to live in surrounding counties even when their workplace is located in Monroe because they can’t afford the living cost. Living far away from a job poses the problem of failed transportation which could end in their termination.
This situation can create a stigma and cycle of homelessness. Overwhelmingly, our panel agrees that homelessness can be prevented if help is able to be provided early. Dan Combs says “In Bloomington, to take someone off the street, to get them in suitable housing is easily $1500 per household for one month. That’s a tremendous investment.” He goes on to say “We look at it differently. We really don’t want to see homeless people. We want to see people before they hit that level because funds are limited.” Sue Lamborn adds “We do know that it’s much less expensive to prevent an eviction and somebody being homeless than to actually put them in a shelter.”
Tags: Bloomington, Bloomington BSW Program, Dan Combs, homelessness, housing, illness, Inc., Independent Living with Human Services, job market, Katharine Byers Ph.D., living costs, Monroe County, Perry Township Trustee, prevention, Shameka Neely, Stan Jastrzebski, Sue Lamborn, transportation issues, veterans