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Countering Myths About Homelessness

 

  • Homeless people do work:  40% of the men at 2100 Lakeside work at least part time.  They just do not earn enough to afford rent.  Most of the jobs available are the most difficult jobs that exist in our society, and at the end of a long day they sleep in a shelter bed.
  • Families are the fastest growing homeless population.  With the foreclosure crisis and the economic downturn more and more families are not able to pay the growing cost of housing.
  • Often families must break up when they arrive at the shelter.  Because of the lack of space in the shelter system, often Mom and children will go to one shelter and Dad will go to the men’s shelters.
  • Government bureaucracy often lengthens a person’s homelessness.  From delays in determining eligibility and archaic administrative rules that can often delay assistance for years further destabilizing a household’s stability. 
  • Homelessness is expensive to our society.  Providing an emergency shelter bed, treatment bed or mental health stabilization bed can cost two to five times the cost of renting an apartment for a household and having the government pay 100% of the rent. 
  • Early intervention during eviction can save the community hundreds of thousands of dollars.  A small amount of rental assistance or social work help when a family receives an eviction order can save the community hundreds of thousands of dollars in shelter, food, and medical care.
  • Frequent moves by children destabilize their ability to learn.  Children from an unstable household are forced to move frequently, and this can put the child two to three years behind their classmates depending on the number of moves.
  • Not all panhandlers are homeless people.  Despite what their sign may say, there are many poor people who cannot find work and so they decide to beg for money.  It is hard to get a real story, but most experts estimate that only 40 to 60 % of the panhandlers are actually homeless.  This is not to say that they are not in need of help, but they may not be without housing.
  • There are a disproportionate number of veterans who become homeless.  Veterans who honorably served their country are 50% more likely to become homeless than a non-veteran in the United States.
  • Cuyahoga County has a shortage of housing that is affordable to families.  Advocates estimate that 42,000 families are paying more than 50% of their household income toward rent and therefore are in danger of becoming homeless. 
  • Poor People and Homeless People do pay significant taxes when compared to the wealthy.  Anyone that buys anything in our community pays taxes.  In fact, poor people pay a greater percentage of their earnings toward taxes then higher income people who have tax lawyers to figure out ways around paying taxes.  Very low income people pay a standard sales tax for all purchases, they pay a standard amount in State and Local Income taxes, and pay a higher percentage of their income on government fees for identification, licenses, and transfers of personal property.

 Go here for more ideas for how to work to end homelessness.

For more information contact the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless www.neoch.org 216/432-0540