Homelessness: “America’s Youngest Outcasts”

Yesterday’s national story reporting that 1 in 50 children in America are homeless (dead link FamilyHomelessness.org) raises, again, our concerns about how much the current financial bailout plans will help low-income and poor families. “Children without homes are on the frontline of the nation’s economic crisis. These numbers will grow as home foreclosures continue to rise,” said Ellen L. Bassuk, M.D., president of the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The report concludes that states with the highest number of homeless children are: TX, CA, LA, GA, and FL. When the numbers are examined along with children’s health problems, the worst performing states are: TX, GA, AR, NM, and LA. Moreover, one-third of the nation’s homeless population are families with children. It’s also believed that “the current home foreclosure crisis will be adding a new demographic to these statistics: middle-class blacks and Latinos” who were previously stable until pieces of their life–jobs, health, home–continued to break away.

In this report, Michigan ranks 29th overall among America’s Youngest Outcasts for (1) Extent of Child Homelessness, (2) Child Well-being, (3) Risk for Child Homelessness, and (4) State Policy and Planning Efforts. However, it ranks 36th for Risk for Child Homelessness, and 38th for Child Well-Being (with 1 being best, 50 being worst).

In the first half of 2006, the Baseline Data Report on the state of Michigan’s Homeless (pdf) found that 56% of homeless persons in families were children, most under the age of 10. Poverty continues to be the greatest cause of homelessness for families.

President Obama has allocated $1.5 billion in stimulus funds to help with homeless prevention funds. Through state governments, families and individuals will be able to apply for short-term mortgage and rental assistance, including help with security deposits and utilities. This is helpful but it’s not enough!

The Michigan economy is the worst in the nation! Homeless individuals and poor families are on the edge of survival. With massive housing foreclosures and evictions, large social service cuts, and no job prospects in Michigan, we must do more as a people to help our most vulnerable members of society. Push your elected officials and business leaders to allocate more funding to low-income and poor people’s needs. “Bail out the people, not the banks!”

(Image from National Center of Family Homelessness)

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