Sunday, March 11, 2007

Question Of The Week, 3/11/07

I'm late. I've been very busy. We're getting ready to move into a different house. That has caused me to give some thought to people that have no home. We have all heard about them. I recently heard about the homeless teens thanks to an article in my local paper.

Homeless students find help

Alonzo Weston Reporter/Columnist

Brittany Frakes plans to go to college to become a minister when she finishes high school. Jeremy Molloy wants to be an auto technician. Kirk Thomas has plenty of dreams about his future now that he's off the streets and living on his own. "I pretty much lived here and there, moved like five or six times until I settled down and got on the right track," said Mr. Thomas, a bright, 17-year-old Central High School student.All three youths are high school students. And they all are or were considered homeless at one time in their young lives. Their dreams were put on hold by the nightmare of being homeless."I cried for like a week straight cause it just killed me inside, my dad hated me so much and my whole family turned against me," Ms. Frakes said. "I had no support whatsoever."The face of homelessness looks a lot younger today. And it's also looking more like families with children, according to a recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report on the measure of homelessness in America.Results from the HUD survey showed that 704,000 people nationwide sought shelter at least once in a three month period from February through April in 2005. Many were adult men and almost half were black. But perhaps the most glaring statistic showed families with children accounting for a third of those who sought emergency shelter and transitional housing. For Bridget Supple, those findings validate her long suspected belief that homelessness knows no set demographic. Anyone can find him or herself on the street under the right set of unfortunate circumstances. "Today, homelessness isn't just the man on the street," Ms. Supple said. "I think anybody can be potentially homeless."Ms. Supple is the chairwoman for the St. Joseph Homeless Services Coalition Continuum of Care. It is a group of about 30 local agencies that formed a few years ago in order to be eligible for HUD grants to help fight homelessness in the city.According to its Web site, HUD awarded more than $9 billion dollars in support to several housing, shelter and service programs throughout the country from it Continuum of Care program since 2001. The city of St. Joseph received some of the HUD money to build the Juda House homeless facility on Olive Street. On Tuesday the city also was awarded $927,841 from HUD for three local programs that provide housing and support for displaced individuals. While the money is greatly needed and will go a long way toward battling homelessness in St. Joseph, it might very well be a million dollar finger in the dike of an ever growing problem. As cuts to social services agencies, such as those funded partially by HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, continue to shrink by comparison, more people are just one social service agency away from the street. That's what Kim Carroll, YWCA victim services director, believes, especially after she's seen the homeless numbers double at the facility during the last year. Many of the women, some with children, have chemical dependency issues, mental illness or are barely making ends meet when something unexpected happens and puts them out of a home. "I don't think that it's a coincidence there have been major cuts in social services budgets over the last several years for the state," Ms. Carroll said. "I think it all plays together." Ms. Supple agreed."Most don't have a family support system so when you cut their services more and more, the more at risk those folks who are just hanging on by a thread become. Easily they could end up on the street," she said. Ms. Carroll said many people are unaware of the homeless women population because they don't see them on the street like they do their male counterparts. Most live with relatives and friends for while or go from one abusive relationship to another."They will end up hooking up with some guy who is not good to them, to their children," she said. "Most of the time you're not going to see them on the street, but that doesn't mean that they are in a safe place that meets their needs." For the past five years the St. Joseph School District has tracked the number of homeless children in the city and tried to meet their needs. More than 300 children were reported as homeless this school year. The numbers have grown each year for the past five years, said Jean West, a Central High School social worker. And just like women, teens are often the hidden homeless population. "The teens, there are lots of different scenarios. They leave home or maybe they get kicked out and they go stay with a friend, sleep on the couch, sometimes they move in with a boyfriend or girlfriend and sometimes there is a fire and the whole family is homeless," she said. Many teens who wind up homeless either lived in abusive situations or can't get along with parents. The law allows them to move out at 17 years of age. "They do it and the majority of them are not ready to do that," Mrs. West said while adding it's more females than males who account for the homeless numbers in the school district.Federal grants to the schools help supply clothing, school supplies and other items for homeless students. The school district also provides independent living classes and services to help them find community resources.Catholic Charities, in conjunction with other agencies and government grants, provides transitional housing options for women. "I'm hoping that as we begin to move people through that program and they have longer to receive that support and that case management service we will see less people coming back," said Jean Brown, YWCA director. Ms. Frakes said it depends on the situation if she would ever leave home again. She lived with friends for several months before moving into the Noyes Home for Children."You've got to think of yourself first and so that's what I did," she said. "Make sure you have a plan cause you don't want to be out there on the streets under a newspaper. It's not worth it."


I hadn't heard that much about homeless teens before. This weeks Question Of The Week is. Will spending time as a homeless teen help them get ready to face the world, or will they go on to become homeless adults?

I'll post my answer in the Comment Section Monday night.

Thanks go to:
The Saint Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

5 Comments:

Blogger THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

I guess it just depends on the person & how strong they are...or how strong they become.

I don't think that a child should be homeless...a teenager is still a child.

6:05 PM  
Blogger THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

By the way: How is your wife doing???....you had mentioned on my blog that she had health problems.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I've had a roommate, and a boyfriend, who'd been homeless earlier in their lives. Once homeless doesn't mean always homeless.

The reason more teen girls than boys leave home is because they're being sexually abused by their fathers or stepfathers. Addressing that issue would go a long way to cut down on teen homelessness.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Several I know now--as adults--were homeless teens. Most of them are not homeless now, however. The few who still are got into substance abuse and never climbed out of that morass.

The homeless teenaged girls don't turn out as well, from what I've seen. Sad to say, one of those homeless girls is one of my cousins. Her life is a mess!

5:02 AM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

First I want to thank you for stopping by. I'm afraid that this could turn out to be much like what we have seen with generation after generation of welfare dependent families. There is an upside. Every once in a while a member of one of those families will break the mold and go on to make a better life for their self and their families. I hope that is what Brittany, Jeremy and Kirk do.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

11:48 AM  

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