Winter in New England can can be torture. Having lived here my entire existence, I’ve bore witness to cold that felt like my skin was being mutilated. With over 3,033 homeless in Connecticut this same feeling is being felt throughout our communities. So much so, we have individuals that rather "Go To Jail" than be on the street.
There is no reasonable explanation as to why our state has not stepped up to make the changes necessary to end this crisis. Every year there are funds allocated to organizations to end homelessness and yet every winter people are still homeless.
The amount of real estate available for rehabilitation is vast. We have neighborhoods that have been leveled, with no complete plans to revitalize the area like Long River Village. Grants have been awarded to a few nonprofits to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring for families, youth and individuals by advancing the coordinated statewide homelessness response system. Homelessness has decreased 32% since 2018 according to the 2019 PIT. Progress has been incremental, but impactful, we are joining the fight and will be pushing for faster outcomes. Most recently the funds awarded from Jeff Bezo's to the organization's across America should enhance the services. In Connecticut, CCEH and The Covenant House have received funding to combat homelessness. We not only need to provide low-income housing, but also Employment Development and Financial Education.
Our media outlets insure that we will continue to receive coverage of current events.
What is Trending on Twitter?
What is Breaking News on CNN?
What a broadcasting on Facebook Live?
These are worries many are always perpetuating, but what are we doing when something important is brought to light?
We have known about the problems our healthcare in America has had for decades. Yet, this is not at the top of the list for politicians. Our president is worried about securing the boarder and building walls. We are in a society which, relies on us to work to keep a strong GDP.
The problem is 40% of Americans have a chronic illness, that’s 133 Million people.
(National Health Council)
More than 75% of all healthcare comes from chronic illness. There are 27.5 million people who don’t have health insurance. (Census, 2019)
Do you see where I’m going with this?!
These numbers are staggering and yet the crisis continues to get overlooked.
Why do so many go without coverage?!
Believe me, it’s not that 27.5 Million don’t want to be covered when they need it. It’s because insurance is too HIGH.
Imagine making 20,000 a year!
Car insurance: 250
Yearly Total: 19,440
How can health insurance be squeezed in?
Our basic Human Rights are violated by our government who choose to not take the drastic measure necessary to fix our healthcare system.
Article 25: Right to Adequate Standard of Living. This means Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Humans are social creatures. We take care of one another, therefore insuring the survival of the group. Our government has been elected as the leaders of our group and yet they neglect the very people they are sworn in to protect.
We have to do better!!
There are solutions that can be executed. It may mean higher taxes to erase healthcare costs.
Sacrifice a little and Gain the Lot.
Survive - “continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.”
I see a lot of emphasis put on the need to have money to survive. Along with that same message it is stated that money is imaginary and only worth what it is that we as a people believe its value to be. Does money actually determine ones survival? We are currently living in a time where millionaires are being produced in record numbers and by the same token, lower class is increasing at a rate far beyond that. Even with no wealth we have a class of people surviving through all adversity. For instance, “Skid Row” located in Los Angeles exists the largest population of people experiencing homelessness. These people are surviving daily with no regular source of income. Living on the streets, surviving off of scraps they were given or what they were able to forge from the surrounding area. Living in spite of the hardship they are experiencing. Money isn’t needed to survive, but to live in comfort. Civilizations have thrived without the use and or need of money. Our culture has conditioned us to believe that money equates to human survival. When all fails and we are left with only the land upon which we stand, we will survive. The key is to survive until you can prosper.
Prosper - “succeed in material terms; be financially successful.”
Continue to push yourself and use that drive to overcome the hardship you may feel confined to. Know that you can make it out because your mind matters. Think and use the system and services around you to rise and grow rich. Never live in a depressive state of mind, it is important to vibrate at a higher frequency. When you have thoughts of self doubt, pair them with positive affirmations. It’s normal to have these negative thoughts, but if you believe then you can achieve greatness.
Our social service programs must be in readily available and easily accessible to those looking for help.
Here are some in CT: Connecticut Social Services
How can we idly stand by and watch people live on the streets of our city. I drive by someone everyday holding a sign asking for help. Some signs ask for food, some for water, and others just say PLEASE HELP! GOD BLESS! god has bless many of us to live a life where we don’t have to beg. Many jobs allow for a comfortable living arrangement and a nice car to drive by those crying for help.
Crying from the soul through physical signs held up by unkept, unsteady hands. Many of those impacted by homelessness have cried so much there are no more physical tears left. Their pain is visible through the tattered clothing draping their body. I give what I can, but as we all know it’s not enough. Money alone isn’t going to fix the problem. We must band together as business leaders and supply knowledge that can be demonstrated through actionable steps. Giving a home to someone who can’t manage finances is counter productive. How will they budget to keep the home. We must teach these skills. Teach how to get and keep a job. How to care for oneself. Know where to find supports to be supported on the path to self-sustainment.
Love Thy Neighbors as Thy self.
By Alfonso Holland
An Extended Hand
Unemployment has been trickling down and yet the number of first time homeless are on the rise.The face of homeless are not “bums” that many associate with the term, they are the people who have jobs working Per-diem and sometimes part-time for an organization that “hired them”. My question is how are we measuring the unemployment rate and what does it matter if your employed, if your not working. As we know not all jobs are created equal and neither will they all propel you forward. As I continue, you will see how some will keep you stagnant.
How does Per-diem work?
Unlike part-time where many times you have a set amount of hours guaranteed, with per-diem work your services are used on an as needed basis. Per Diem is Latin for “per day”. There may be days, weeks or months you go without working and collecting a check. I’ve noticed a lot of positions available are per-diem in today’s job market. That being said you can be employed at 3 per-diem jobs and still not get paid. There is no stability in this type of work.
So should you really be counted as employed?
How can a country that relies on its citizens to work for the perseverance of our economy, not provide healthcare to those maintaining the infrastructure.
Let’s say you have a major medical problem arise that forces you out of work. Most likely, working per-diem will not grant you enough accrued hours for the year to claim sick time, which are 500 hours needed. On top of that you have no benefits. You thought employment would help you to thrive, but you were really working to barely get by.
Question: How does one pay their bills under these conditions?
Answer: They don’t!
Without loved ones support many are on the verge of homelessness and full financial collapse, which in turn creates a life crisis. If you are relying on a guaranteed check get confirmation at the beginning of employment through hiring documents. Or maybe, it’s time to start believing in yourself and understand your capabilities. Be an Entrepreneur! Take time to invest in your visions, build a brand and live your truth. It is important to know your worth, which is not the wage jobs decide to give you for your services. You are worth so much more.
Work for yourself, be your own boss!
Author: Alfonso Holland
The rise of Homelessness in prominent cities across America has sent waves of disbelief through our country. How can we be surprised by this outcome. Although there have been funds allocated to the affordable infrastructures built for human habitation throughout this nation, there has not been enough emphasis put on the the prevention of homelessness or the importance of self-sufficiency. Where are these individuals coming into homelessness stepping out from? These are working class Americans! People working our registers at Walmart, packaging our orders at Amazon, and bagging our groceries at Stop and Shop. Measure H sales tax in LA has allocated $355 Million dollars annually for 10 years to combat homelessness. The federally mandated Annual Point-In-Time survey for 2019 has shown a 12% rise in homelessness from 2018 in Los Angeles.
Yes, the chronically homeless are being helped and housed with supports to help sustain a life with less obstacles and more treatment. “Yet as thousands of people were permanently housed, thousands more fell into homelessness due to economic forces and the interlocking systems of foster care, mental health, criminal justice, and the housing market, outpacing the results. Our ability to reach, serve, and house people experiencing homelessness has risen enormously since voters made unprecedented investments in our homeless services system in 2016 and 2017,” said Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA. “And at the same time our regional housing affordability crisis continues to drive thousands into homelessness.”
Homelessness has declined by 11% nationwide between 2012 and 2018, but at the same time many large cities have seen surges like 26% in Seattle, 47% in New York City and 75% in Los Angeles. (Huffpost)
Connecticut is on a steady decline for homelessness. Let's CLAP for our great state doing something right. The 'Coordinated Access Network' aka CAN has been instrumental in getting this monumental feat accomplished. Although the finish line is miles away we've made great strides to getting closer than ever before. This year's statistics have shown that we have 10% less people experiencing homelessness at the time this survey was taken. The CAN has streamlined access to homeless services and housing assistance for people who fall into a housing crisis or homelessness.
Even with all of this praise given we must step back and see the bigger picture. The number of single adults make up 2/3 of the homeless population. These people have not had the amount of help that should be allocated to them. Don't be hard on our people they are someone's family and could possibly be yours. Take a stand and grab a hand. We are in this together, this is our community. Everyone deserves some sort of permenent housing, so we must band together to and come up with solutions to prevent these situations from occurring.
Our business leaders must join this fight. There are so many skills not being utilized because many homeless aren't properly equipped to secure and ace an interview. The unemployment rate for America as a whole has been steady at 3.6%, a 50-year low. Unemployment for black Americans is at 6.7% and about 4.2% for Hispanics. It is hard enough to make ends meet with a job, but without one it is almost impossible. Those experiencing Homelessness have many faces. In other words, homelessness is no longer just a symbol of decline. It is a product of prosperity. We are in a time that the cost of living outpaces the set wages and people are a paycheck away from being homeless. A job doesn't secure a home, a livable wage does.
Families and individuals alike must be educated as well. Financial Education is key as well as Employment Development. Helping our people advance through the knowledge of self-awareness will in turn allow for a Collaborative Growth Initiative that will benefit all involved.
This is going to take all of us to end homelessness. We can no longer criminalize people holding signs looking for a sign of hope.
Think of how important education is to our society. How serious do you and your family take education? If you want to get ahead in life, Learn; studying a major or pick up a trade is what I was taught. Your way of life depends on it!
Traditional schooling still reigns supreme when it comes to education, but there are some alternatives that are being utilized regularly. The cost to learn is a price to pay. Many people take for granted the opportunity to obtain student loans, and financial aid to pay for classes. These classes are maybe 1, 3 1/2, or even 5 hours in length at most. Once class is over it’s back home for some individuals. Home could be at a specific address with a bed and loved ones or it could be in the car sitting out on the street infront of that very same home.
There happens to be an exuberant amount of students who are living under conditions that aren’t conducive to a healthy learning experience.
To be homeless in education means to be without 1/2 of the puzzle. The funding for the classroom is there, along with the materials for studying purposes. The comfort of a home is non-existent and family is nowhere to be found. How does one manage in these conditions. Housing must be a given not a luxury to be earned. We must teach our young adults how to apply for housing and other services available. When pulling students away from families to learn we must advocate and supply affordable and safe housing.
My My My how the tides have turned!!
Portions of our government have been so “gung-ho” on building a wall yet so reluctant in supplying funds to those in need, like the thousands who are poor and or homeless. Now the President has closed the government, turning his back on those who thought they were the most secure. These Federal workers are now facing the life the poor and are on the verge of homelessness. The emotion that everyone is expressing is disheartening, however where is this passion when we see people living out on the streets everyday? Are these calls for action being pressed for our fellow man dealing with homelessness?
There are many organizations quickly coming to the aid of these federal workers, offering food and services, which is great, but this is needed year round. Doing for one another is how our society has grown into the nation it is today. Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart! Being broke is a temporary aspect of life. The government will reopen, checks will be delivered and many will go back to sleep in their warm bed relieved and unbothered. The homeless will still be on the street or fighting for a spot in a shelter. These people will still be in a dire need of love, care, and support. According to a study conducted by Johnetta Hardin & Diaane E. Wille, when asked what are the reasons many of those experiencing homelessness are in this situation the 3 top responses are the lack of income, addiction, and lack of family support.
“On the night of January 23, 2018, 3,383 people were experiencing homelessness in Connecticut, this represents a 25% state wide decrease from 2007” (CCEH PIT, May 2018). In 2016 it was reported on January 23, 2016 that 549,928 individuals were experiencing homelessness. That number has remained relatively consistent today and is presumed to be far less than the actual number, is estimated to be over a million. There are 800,000 furloughed workers, all of which have been counted and are known to the masses.
America, we have a problem! Being broke is temporary and for those furloughed Trump has a quick fix for it. On the other hand our chronically poor and homeless need services that must be developed to tackle the root causes of this dilemma.
Funding for social services, not a wall. More jobs, less barriers!
Being out on the streets is life or death and without shelter people die. There is amazing work transforming the lives of our people in need. A home is so crucial in making sure that one is protected from the elements that nature constantly exposes us to. New Story a charity that works to provide shelters in developing countries around the world, has teamed up with ICON to build sustainable homes with inexpensive materials. Technology has come so far, and 3D printing has becoming a new building block for architects . ICON has built a 3D printer called Vulcan that is able to build affordable home in 24 hours. The home has walls made with a concrete mixture for only $4,000 at 600 to 800 sq. feet.
At 7,500 people, the city of San Francisco has one of the largest homeless populations in America. There is a major need for affordable housing across the country and very few cities are tackling the issue head on. San Francisco’s Public transit (BART) Bay Area Rapid Transit is undergoing a major overhaul. With the transit system introducing hundreds of new train cars to improve the city’s transportation service, the agency will run out of room to store the old trains. This will give a great opportunity to utilize these old train cars as an alternative to constructed homes.
Funds are needed for affordable housing communities. The skyrocketing home prices are driving up the homeless rate. A research study connected found that 8 out of 10 states with the highest homelessness rates also have the nation's highest median home prices. The homeless population is increasing and not enough is being done to decimate the issue.
Other Housing Alternatives:
*Bamboo House India
*Shipping Container Complex
Author: Alfonso Holland
Everyone deals with life differently, therefore the way we manage circumstances attributes to our lives outcome. Poor mental and physical health are strong predictors of homelessness. Most often homeless individuals experience multiple risk factors and are unable to independently recover from these disparities. Suffering from a variety of mental health issues, including depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders becomes consuming and taxing on the psyche. These issues affect between 15% to 60% of the homeless population. Mental health may be a risk factor for homelessness, but homelessness is a risk factor for mental illness.
Why do people choose to use drugs?
Many would say the it's because they want to do it, when in-fact drugs are a coping mechanism for those dealing with physical or emotional pain. A lot of times it isn't that individuals want to use drugs, but they choose to do them as a way to substitute a substance-induced feeling of euphoria for the less mundane reality in which they live. The drugs are powerful chemical compounds that trigger a reward cascade within the brain of the user that is many times more powerful than regular reinforcers like food, water or sex. In short they make the user feel good. If something increases the individual's sense of pleasure or decreases his discomfort, then he/she is likely to repeat the behavior.
How can we help?
This is a complex question that has no definitive answer. There are many ways in which intervention can assist those dealing with substance abuse and addiction, but it takes a person centered approach to achieve it. Research has shown that those with an substance use disorder tend to live alone or lack interpersonal supports. Those that are dealing with substance abuse must be brought face-to-face with the reality of the disorder, be detoxified if necessary, and begin rehabilitation. (Sadock and Sadock, 2007) After an Intervention, the treatment process must begin rehabilitation to help address the substance abuse disorder. Treatment is not a fixed duration, it is a process by which the patient's progress and needs help to determine the duration and focus of the rehabilitation effort (lee-Lee & Gastfriend, 2008).
The care of our loved ones will be ongoing as they are surviving the pain of life in the free world. #AMERICA