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Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Coming soon, to a park bench near you...
Homelessness grows as more live check-to-check : " As Americans file for bankruptcy in record numbers and credit card debt explodes, more workers are a paycheck away from losing their homes. Now the frail economy is pushing them over the edge. With 9 million unemployed workers in July, the face of homelessness is changing to include more families shaken by joblessness."
The article, originally from USA Today, has a more-clear-than-usual look at the real effects of the unemployment rate and the economy on a lot of real people.
"There is still a mind-set that the homeless are substance abusers who have made bad life decisions," says Ralph Plumb, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. "But more and more, they are individuals responding to a catastrophic financial event. The homeless are us. They're regular folk."
Requests for emergency shelter assistance grew an average of 19% from 2001 to 2002, according to the 18 cities that reported an increase — the steepest rise in a decade. The findings are from a 2003 survey of 25 cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Among the trends:
  • Families with children are among the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The Conference of Mayors found that 41% of the homeless are families with children, up from 34% in 2000. The Urban Institute reports about 23% of the homeless are children.
  • Cities and shelters are also seeing the shift. In New York, the number of homeless families jumped 40% from 1999 to 2002. In Boston, the number of homeless families increased 8.3% to 2,328 in 2002 compared with 2001.
  • An estimated 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year, the Urban Institute reports. People remained homeless for an average of six months, according to the Conference of Mayors survey — a figure that increased from a year ago in all but four cities.
Let's run that one again: 41% of the homeless are families with children. Where are those Republican Familiy Values now?
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