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Project Homeless Connect 2013 – Redding, CA

Project Homeless Connect

Today, Tuesday, June 4, 2013 Project Homeless Connect is being held at the Redding Convention Center, 700 Auditorium Drive, Redding, CA from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Project Homeless Connect is organized by the Redding/Shasta County Continuum of Care. It is “a one-stop shop for delivering services to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Once a year service providers, businesses, citizens, and faith congregations come together to bring multiple resources to one central location where people can come to access the services they need. These services include housing, employment, medical care, mental health care, benefits and legal assistance, eye doctors, haircuts, chiropractic, dental care, and more.”  300 volunteers have signed up to help.

Redding/Shasta County Continuum of Care Council estimates that more than 3,000 people were identified as homeless or imminently at-risk of becoming homeless last year (2012). Of those, 700 were children. Facilities such as the Good News Rescue Mission do a great job helping people with addictions through counseling and short term housing. But they cannot accommodate families with children, nor can the accommodate all those in need. There simply is not enough low-cost housing available in the area and the City of Redding has resisted proposals to create a tent city by enacting an ordinance that prohibits camping on private property for more than 7 days.

According to the 2012 HUD subpopulation report, in the Redding/Shasta County Continuum of Care (CA-516), 35% of the homeless are unsheltered; 18% are in transitional housing; and 48% are in emergency shelters. The  largest proportion of unsheltered are chronically homeless, severely mentally ill, have chronic substance abuse or are veterans.

Nationally, the 2012 Point-in-Time Homeless Estimate says that on a single night there were 633,782 homeless people in the United States, 62% of whom were individuals and 38% were families. Almost two-thirds of homeless people were sheltered (living in emergency shelter or transitional housing) on the night of the PIT count and about one third were unsheltered.

Five states accounted for nearly half of the nation’s total homeless population: California (20.7 percent), New York (11.0 percent), Florida (8.7 percent), Texas (5.4 percent), and Georgia (3.2 percent). California accounted for more than 1 in 5 homeless people in the United States! In California, 64.9 percent of the homeless are unsheltered.

Some advocates such as the Coalition for the Homeless insist that a housing first solution model is the most effective solution to reducing street homelessness. “The ‘housing first” approach is far less costly than emergency and institutional care like shelters, hospitals, and correctional facilities.”

The causes of homelessness are varied as noted in this list from Wikipedia:

  • The deinstitutionalization movement from the 1950s onwards in state mental health systems, to shift towards ‘community-based’ treatment of the mentally ill, as opposed to long-term commitment in institutions.
  • Redevelopment and gentrification activities instituted by cities across the country through which low-income neighborhoods are declared blighted and demolished to make way for projects that generate higher property taxes and other revenue, creating a shortage of housing affordable to low-income working families, the elderly poor, and the disabled.
  • The failure of urban housing projects to provide safe, secure, and affordable housing to the poor.
  • The economic crises and “stagflation” of the 1970s, which caused high unemployment. Unlike European countries, US unemployment insurance does not allow unemployed insurance recipients to obtain job training/education while receiving benefits except under very limited situations.
  • The failure of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide effective mental health care and meaningful job training for many homeless veterans, particularly those of the Vietnam War.
  • Deprived of normal childhoods, nearly half of foster children in the United States become homeless when they are released from foster care at age 18.
  • Natural disasters that destroy homes: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. Places of employment are often destroyed too, causing unemployment and transience.[citation needed]
  • People who have served time in prison, have abused drugs and alcohol, or have a history of mental illness find it difficult to impossible to find employment for years at a time because of the use of computer background checks by potential employers.[15]
  • According to the Institution of Housing in 2005, the U.S. Government has focused 42% more on foreign countries rather than homeless Americans, including homeless veterans.
  • People who are hiding in order to evade law enforcement.
  • Women and children who flee domestic violence.
  • Teenagers who flee or are thrown out by parents who disapprove of their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A 2010 study by the left wing Center for American Progress shows that a disproportionately high number of homeless youth (between 20–40%) identify as LGBTQ.
  • Overly complex building code that makes it difficult for most people to build. Traditional huts, cars, and tents are illegal, classified as substandard and may be removed by government, even though the occupant may own the land. Land owner cannot live on the land cheaply, and so sells the land and becomes homeless.
  • Foreclosures of homes (properties)
  • Evictions from apartments
  • Lack of support from friends or family
  • Lack of resources in place in the communities to help aid in prevention of homelessness before it becomes a crisis.

Making the problem more acute locally is the release of prisoners from the State system.

The Obama Administration is “committed to the belief that no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.” As part of this commitment, under the leadership of Secretary Donovan, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released the Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (FSP) in 2010. The FSP was amended in 2012.

The FSP provides a roadmap for Federal agencies and the homeless assistance community to achieve four clear goals:

1. End chronic homelessness in 5 years;
2. Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in 5 years;
3. Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children within a decade; and
4. Set a path to eradicate all types of homelessness.

Perhaps the first step toward eliminating homelessness in Redding, CA is to develop a Community Strategic Plan. Interested in participating?

One Response to Project Homeless Connect 2013 – Redding, CA

  1. Ann Corrin

    June 5, 2013 at

    Yes, I am ready to work with others to develop a Community Strategic Plan. One big task in that is to show that current needs are not being met. May people in Redding believe that the agencies in place now are fully sufficient to cover the need. Not true, but we have to document the needs that are not being met. It’s a big job, but we must get started.

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