So, as homelessness is getting more attention, you hear the mayor say the city is spending $3M on services and the county handing out lists of the services available and non-profits are telling us that services are “readily available” but lets take a look at what is really going on.
First of all, the city’s $3M is for all programs, not just homeless programs. It’s for domestic abuse and sexual assault, youth, seniors, early childhood education and childcare and other programs. In fact, most of the money from homeless services is actually pass through money from the state or federal government. I’m not even certain one taxpayer dollar goes to homeless services in that $3M chunk, I’m going to have to double check that- but the details are elusive after the reign of Mayor Dave.
Second of all, when it comes to emergency shelter, I made a list of people who are not served by current services (Porchlight for Men; Salvation Army for Single Women; Salvation Army, YWCA and The Road Home for Families).
- Transgendered persons
- Couples (they have to be split up)
- Men who have used 60 days in shelter since November 1, unless it is 20 degrees or less
- Women who have used 30 days in shelter in the last year, no cold weather exceptions
- Families (children) who have used up their 180 life-time limit, no cold weather exception
- People who have been banned from shelter
- People who have been drinking alcohol during the day – any amount
- Families on the waiting list for shelter (currently 20 families)
- People with pets (Yesterday I listened to a woman crying who experienced medical issues and lost their home and had to give up their cats – further adding stress to their lives.)
I’m not sure that list is complete, but it is close.
Third, housing just simply isn’t available. We have a long list of programs, with many restrictions and long waiting lists. Here’s a little taste of what is available (just for housing), but if you don’t fit into these categories, it won’t work for you. This is from the long list of homeless services from the county, but it boils down to this.
- Permanent and transitional housing for people with HIV/AIDS (AIDS Network)
- Housing for people with disabilities who are trying to increase their income/self-sufficiency (CAC 14 households)
- Single women 18 – 26 who are pregnant with their first child (Elizabeth House)
- Housing for people with mental illnesses – tenant pay 30% of income towards rent (Goodwill – 3 group homes, 7 apartment buildings)
- Single women with kids and an income (Holly House – 24 month limit)
- Alcohol or drug treatment for 3 weeks (Hope Haven), or short term (North Bay)
- People with mental illnesses (Housing Initiatives, waiting list is a year and half long)
- 62 or older (McKee Apartments, has a waiting list)
- Must have alcohol or drug issues or mental illnesses or accept case management and pay $239 – 431 per month (Porchlight)
- Single women and women with children with income (program fees), apply to be on waiting list (St. Vincent de Paul)
- Singles with chronic mental illnesses, inpatient drug and alcohol treatment (with insurance, fees charged), singles with alcohol or drug issues or mental health issues (rent charged based on income) (Tellurian)
- Women with mental illnesses (Women in Transition)
- Women or women with 1 or 2 children under 5 years old (YWCA)
- Veterans (VA Veterans Homeless Program)
Waiting lists for public housing are as follows as of 6/8/2012:
1-Bedroom Unit (Disabled Designations) = 12+ Months
1-Bedroom Unit (Age 62 or older Designations) = 3 – 6 Months
1-Bedroom Unit (Age 50-61, no disability) = 12+ Months
1-Bedroom Unit (No Designation) = Indefinite wait time
2-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
3-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
4-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
5-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
For public housing you must have 24 months of positive rental history, no criminal history.
Waiting lists for Section 8 at the City and County are closed and have been for years.
Market rate housing is also near impossible. The second quarter of the year is usually the best time to rent and there was only a 3.2 vacancy rate, the lowest in years (info goes back to 1995).
Single men without alcohol or drug issues or mental illnesses are the clear losers here, but there are many that slip between the gaps in the above. And many of the people on the waiting lists get lost along the way and never make it.
WAKE UP!!! We need our elected officials to look at the facts. Realize the gaps in the system and get real about solving the issues, because you know they aren’t going to like the solutions that the community will come up with to help people in desperate situations. And meanwhile, people are starting to freak out thinking about spending another winter in a tent.
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