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Helping the Homeless at the Holidays
Except during the Great Depression, women and children have never been on our nation's streets in significant numbers. During the 1980's, cutbacks in benefits coupled with rapidly increasing rents and a dearth of low income housing jeopardized the stability of all people with reduced or fixed incomes. At the same time, the number of female headed households dramatically increased. As a result, the nation's population of homeless families swelled from almost negligible numbers to nearly 40% of the overall homeless population today.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 1.2 million children are homeless on any given night. Department of Education that report almost 400,000 homeless children were served by the nation's public schools last year. Since more than half of all homeless children are under the age of 6 and not yet in school, a minimum of 800,000 children can be presumed to be homeless. On the basis of these data, the National Center on Family Homelessness concludes that more than one million American children are homeless today.
Looking beyond current numbers, The National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) predicts that tight housing markets accompanied by decreasing availability of cash benefits as a result of welfare reform will lead to an increase in family homelessness. To determine which states will have the biggest problem, NCFH created an index of seven risk factors for family homelessness. These factors were identified from epidemiological research conducted over the past ten years. The ranking of states is presented in the report.
Unfortunately the homeless children are far sicker then the average child with so many factors causing these illness. Homeless children: Are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children and four times as often as children whose families earn more than $35,000 a year. Have higher rates of low birth weight and need special care right after birth four times as often as other children. Have very high rates of acute illness, with half suffering from two or more symptoms during a single month. Have twice as many ear infections, five times more diarrhea and stomach problems, and six times as many speech and stammering problems. Are four times more likely to be asthmatic. Go hungry at more than twice the rate of other children
Homelessness Devastates Families Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, now accounting for almost 40% of the nation's homeless. More than 85% of homeless families are headed by single mothers, with the average homeless family comprised of a young mother and her two young children, most of whom are below the age of 6 years.
Homeless mothers have an average annual income of under $8000, living at 63% of the federal poverty level for a family of three. Only 21% of homeless mothers receive money from family, partners, or friends. 39% have been hospitalized for medical treatment. 22% have asthma, compared to 5% of other women under 45 years. 20% have anemia, compared to 2% of other women under 45 years. 40% report alcohol or drug dependency at some time in their lives. Although 70% of fathers of homeless children are in touch with their children, most do not live with the family.
These children have no hope or future if they are on the street for over a year. 50% of fathers are unemployed. 43% have problems with drugs or alcohol. 31% have physical or mental health problems. One third are in jail or on probation. Homeless children are at particularly high risk for being placed in foster care; 12% of homeless children are placed in foster care compared to just over 1% of other children.
The National Center on Family Homelessness has identified placement in foster care as one of only two childhood risk factors that predicts family homelessness during adulthood. 44% of homeless mothers lived outside of their homes at some point during their childhood; Almost one fourth of them were placed in foster care. 70% of homeless mothers placed in foster care as children have had at least one of their own children in foster care.
The frequency of violence in the lives of homeless mothers is staggering. 63% have been violently abused by an intimate male partner. 27 percent have expereince severe domestic violence resulting in injuries requiring medical attention. 25% have been physically or sexually assaulted during adulthood by someone other than an intimate partner. 66% were violently abused by a childhood caretaker or other adult in the household before reaching 18. 43% were sexually molested as children. When the violence from their childhood is combined with their experiences as adults, 92% of homeless mothers have been severely physically or sexually assaulted; 88% have been violently abused by a family member or intimate partner.
These repeated acts of brutality result in unusually high rates of serious emotional problems among homeless mothers. 36% have experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; three times the rate of other women. 45% have had a major depressive disorder, twice the rate of other women. 31% have attempted suicide at least once, primarily during adolescence. 12% have been hospitalized for treatment of mental illness. Among homeless children: 8% have been physically abused, twice the rate of other children. 8% have been sexually abused; triple the average rate. 35% have been the subject of a child protection investigation. 24% have witnessed acts of violence within their family. 30 percent of homeless children have seen their dad hit their mom. 15% have wateched their moms have sex.
Each November, Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee collects nearly 1000 gently used winter coats and distributes them to hundreds of men, women, and children who would otherwise go without. This year we ar setting up a second delivery for Thanksgiving and a third delivery on December 15th. We are planning two more drives this month. For ten dollars you can buy a pair of shoes or
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a coat for a homeless child and we will deliver it directly for you.
Host a Coat Collection Organize your own coat drive and inspire your coworkers, neighbors, or civic group members to give the gift of warmth this winter.
Donate a coat Please check to see where you can drop off coats.
Make a financial donation
nearly 10,000 coats each winter, as well as our year round projects,
requires an enormous amount of resources. Your donation will help us give out thousands of coats this winter.
Buy Some Coffee: buy someone a nice Holiday gift of coffee: Mission Grounds offers nice gift baskets, monthly coffee delivery, a
of coffee and a coffee club. Buy someone a nice gift and all the proceeds go to homeless children
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