Youth Homelessness in Today’s Tough Economy
Around the country, runaway and homeless youth organizations are facing the challenge of accommodating more youth as a result of the current economic downturn. The relentless surge of home foreclosures, massive unemployment, stifling consumer debt and bankruptcies are conspiring to break up families and force more young people to the streets, youth workers say.
“Unfortunately, there has been a drastic increase” in young people needing emergency shelter, says Maria Mayola, director of community relations for Covenant House Florida in Orlando. “For two and a half to three months, we were well over capacity. We have been making special arrangements, using our chapel to accommodate more youth. For the first time in our history, we are operating off a waiting list.”
Steve Jella, associate executive director of San Diego Youth Services, says he’s seen a marked increase in youth seeking services for a variety of reasons, most of which can be associated with our troubled economy.
“Some of the programs I serve here focus on the eastern part of our county, which encompasses urban and rural areas. We’re noticing a lot of trends. [One community] has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the county and at the same time, it also has the highest rate of where parolees go. So there are a lot of youth and families that we traditionally serve now coming in with significantly more severe problems,” he says.
For the entire article: http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/tools/exchange/serving-youth-economic-downturn/youth-homelessness .
In the United States, on a per capita basis one of the richest OECD member countries, has a child poverty rate of 21.6 percent — meaning that more than one in every five children there lives in poverty per Globallist.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES BRIEF TO ADDRESS THE CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMELESSNESS
Thursday, August 6, 2015 doj.gov
The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest today arguing that making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places, when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless. The statement of interest was filed in federal district court in Idaho in Bell v. City of Boise et al., a case brought by homeless plaintiffs who were convicted under Boise ordinances that criminalize sleeping or camping in public.
As stated by the Justice Department in its filing, “[i]t should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . . Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”
“Many homeless individuals are unable to secure shelter space because city shelters are over capacity or inaccessible to people with disabilities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights. Moreover, enforcing these ordinances is poor public policy. Needlessly pushing homeless individuals into the criminal justice system does nothing to break the cycle of poverty or prevent homelessness in the future. Instead, it imposes further burdens on scarce judicial and correctional resources, and it can have long-lasting and devastating effects on individuals’ lives.”
“No one wants people to sleep on sidewalks or in parks, particularly not our veterans, or young people, or people with mental illness,” said Director Lisa Foster of the Office for Access to Justice. “But the answer is not to criminalize homelessness. Instead, we need to work with our local government partners to provide the services people need, including legal services, to obtain permanent and stable housing.”
More than 1 million persons are served in HUD-supported emergency, transitional and permanent housing programs each year. The total number of persons who experience homelessness may be twice as high. There are four federally defined categories under which individuals and families may qualify as homeless: 1) literally homeless; 2) imminent risk of homelessness; 3) homeless under other Federal statues; and 4) fleeing/attempting to flee domestic violence.
Where Can Individuals Find Assistance?
Individuals looking for assistance can:
- Find resources for homeless persons, including, youth, veterans, and the chronically homeless
- Find rental, homebuyer, and homeowner assistance
- Find help for victims of foreclosure and Hurricane Sandy and for persons living with HIV/AIDS