You know, I’m worried…..very worried. Four of the largest states in the Union have run out of unemployment insurance money. They are Michigan, California, Florida, and New York. 256,000 people lost their jobs in October plus 1.9 million people become a statistic for long term unemployment of 6 months and longer. There are the many people that are falling off the radar right now, as I write. Its time to brace yourself and turn inword to address this growing dirty little secret in the United States of America.
From Seattle to Athens, Georgia, homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation. Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they’ve experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report’s release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market beginning to bottom out.
“It’s clear that poverty and homelessness have increased,” said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. “The economy is in chaos and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future.”
The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up.
“What you’re seeing is encampments that I haven’t seen since the 80s,” said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western
Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group for homeless advocacy organizations in the California cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland and in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.
The city of Santa Barbara, California, has given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans. The city of Fresno, California, is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where
people have made shelters out of scrap wood.
In Portland, and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters. Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tennessee; San Diego, California; and Columbus, Ohio. This season and on into next year, remember to give. Because this era is just beginning.
We are custodians of each other and its time to step up to the plate and connect with your community again.
Naional Coalition for the Homeless http://www.nationalhomeless.org/