A History of Homelessness in America Homelessness 101

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A History of Homelessness in America Homelessness 101 Slide 2 Why is this topic important? Hubert H. Humphrey George Santayana Albert Einstein Slide 3 It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped. Hubert H. Humphrey (1911- 1978) Slide 4 The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them Albert Einstein Slide 5 Society Section of Homelessness Causes of homelessness Attitudes toward homelessness Responses to homelessness Slide 6 At your table Introduce yourselves Name Agency and what it does with respect to assisting homeless persons Your role Then, identify what you consider your top three causes of homelessness Slide 7 Underlying Cause of Homelessness Socio-economic & political factors That there is homelessness is a factor of these conditions, who becomes homeless is a result of environmental & constitutional factors. Down and out in America, Peter Rossi Slide 8 Slide 9 The most vulnerable become homeless EnvironmentalConstitutional Slide 10 Characteristics of LTH Three things in common No fixed abode Poor Loss of social safety net Difficult start in life (58%) Institutionalized Education - special ed, dropped out Birth to child before age 18 Multiple disabilities History of abuse & neglect Self report 26% - 38% (Wilder Survey) 97% women with SMI (Goodman, 91) Stressful life events (Munoz, 99) Slide 11 Five distinct periods of homelessness Colonial Period Urbanization Industrialization The Great Depression Contemporary Period Slide 12 Colonial Period Beliefs & Attitudes Puritan culture & work ethic, rugged individualism Wandering beggars & rogues are a plague to civil society. They should be taken as enemies of this ordinance of God William Perkins Slide 13 Primary causes of homelessness Agricultural society required skilled and unskilled worker mobility Continuing territorial skirmishes Beginnings of business cycles Immigration Slide 14 Urbanization (1820 1850) Homelessness increases sharply Slide 15 1850 50,000 people Chicago 1898 1,500,000 people Slide 16 Attitudes toward the homeless Tread Mill (1822 1826) Slide 17 Primary causes of homelessness Railroads and telegraph introduce pervasive societal changes Mills, mines, and dock work offered employment but low job security Bumpy business cycles Slide 18 Response by government Minimalist policy Tramp room 1853 25,000 used in six month period in NY Public Outdoor Relief Strict vagrancy laws Slide 19 Civil War and Industrialization (1870 1900) Homelessness dips significantly during the Civil War then spikes during subsequent economic depressions Slide 20 Slavery General Sherman promised 40 acres and a mule to freed slaves. In the end less than 1%, about 3,500, received their allotment. With very few African Americans able to gain land and assets to give to their children, there is now a home ownership gap where 27% more whites have homes than African Americans (up from 23% in 1940). Sources: Freedmen, The Freed Slaves of the Civil War. www.civilwarhome.com/freedmen.html.www.civilwarhome.com/freedmen.html Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE) and The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) www.cohre.org/store/attachments/Human-Rights-Resource-Manual.doc Slide 21 Institutionalized Racism as a cause of homelessness The U.S. government has broken land treaties with Native Americans and put them into reservations without sufficient resources and opportunities to find jobs, housing, and a better life. In Minnesota there is a lack of shelter and housing that is culturally appropriate for Native Americans. Slide 22 Unregulated capitalist economy Changes in the nature of work types of jobs Deskilling Demeaning Dangerous 1913 25,000 deaths 700,000 injured Slide 23 Face of homeless after the Civil War The Great American Hobo The hobo and true American ideals verses emerging capitalistic values Hobos labeled as political agitators Slide 24 Main causes of homelessness Veterans from Civil War Institutionalized racism ~ Unequal access to jobs Two severe economic downturns, unemployment near 40% Immigration Railroad penetration allowed for a subculture of train hoppers Slide 25 The Great Depression Black Thursday, October 24, 1929 Breadline No One Has Starved by Reginald Marsh, 1932 Slide 26 From tramp to transient Homelessness increases significantly 25% unemployment Families on the move in search of work Migrant workers from drought-ridden Midwestern States Slide 27 Skid Row & Affordable Housing Veterans People with physical & mental illness Chronic inebriates Displaced persons Unemployed & casually employed Slide 28 Responses to homelessness FDRs New Deal CCC Federal Transient Service Charities in conflict about nature of homelessness Citizens involved Impulsive almsgiving Transient Home Kitchen Wisconsin, 1933 Slide 29 Home Ownership New Deal programs helped white people become homeowners, but African Americans were considered financial risks and not given loans and federal money to become suburban homeowners. Of the $120 billion of government backed loans to new homeowners between 1934-1962, 98% went to white people. Source: Racial Preferences for Whites: The Houses that Racism Built. Larry Adelman, San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2003 Slide 30 Causes of Homelessness Severe economic instability Immigration Migration from Dust Bowl Grapes of Wrath WWII homelessness decreases Slide 31 Skid row community Camaraderie Story telling Casual labor Lobby of cheap lodging house, 1962 Slide 32 Minneapolis skid row demolition In 1958 men aging out 50% over 60 22% over 70 In 1962 42% lived in SROs at $3.35 per week Successfully housed! Given $5 and free advice at demolition Gateway District Slide 33 Contemporary Period (1980Present Homelessness no longer limited to skid row Homelessness increases sharply and continues to rise Multiple causes Deinstitutionalization Vietnam veterans Slide 34 Wilder Research Turquoise = Count Blue = Estimate Slide 35 Main causes of homelessness 1973: Wages Peak In 1973, the average private, non-supervisory, non-agricultural wage reached an all time high of $9.72. By 1983, adjusting for inflation, the same worker was paid $8.76 per hour. (1) Source: The Alliance Report. March April, 1989. Volume #1, Issue #1. Minneapolis Slide 36 Source: Western Regional Advocacy Program, 2007. Slide 37 1980-1983: Federal programs for poor people are cut Between 1980 and 1983 alone, $140 billion in domestic spending was cut. HUD, unemployment, disability, food stamps, and Family welfare programs all received cuts. Source: Open House. A news update from St. Stephens Human Services. Holiday 2005. Minneapolis. Slide 38 Union Strength Declines In 1981 the Federal Government broke the Air Traffic Controllers Strike by firing over 11,000 employees, beginning a trend of unions losing leverage to demand fair wages and benefits. Lack of unions and more service sector jobs make people spend more of their income on healthcare, daycare, etc. [i] USA Today. 2004. Fired air-traffic controller still feels the sting decades later. www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-06-10-taylor-vignette_x.htm Slide 39 1981-1986: Factories Close From January 1981 to January 1986, 10.8 million workers lost their jobs due to plant closures, abolition of positions or shifts, or slack work. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. As cited by Rachel Kamel in The Global Factory. 1990. American Friends Service Committee. Slide 40 The Worker/CEO Pay Gap In 1980, the gap between the highest and average paid worker was 42:1. By 2000, the ratio spiked to 531:1. Source: Chuck Collins & Felice Yeskel, Economic Apartheid in America. Slide 41 Rental Rates and Income Minimum Wage in Minnesota is $7.25/hour which equals $15,080/yr Annual income needed to afford a one bedroom FMR apt: $27,960. A two bedroom: $33,920. 1-Bedroom: $27,960-15,080 = $12,880 unmet need 2-Bedroom $33,920-15,080 = $18,840 unmet need Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition Slide 42 Housing should cost no more than 30% of a households annual income 1973-1993: 2.2 million low-rent units disappeared from the market 1991-1995: median rental costs rose 21% HUD has stopped building public housing and housing projects are being demolished across US Affordable Housing/Gentrification Source:National Coalition for the Homeless (2008). Why are people homeless? Retrieved October 19th, 2008 from, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/why.html Slide 43 Per night costs of Homelessness Adult shelter $32 Youth shelter $125 Jail $363 Hospital $2800 Detox $192 Camping $16 (annual car sticker $28) Supportive housing $21 Slide 44 Collaboration of agencies Creativity in spectrum of housing options Public will - Educate the public about the systemic causes of homelessness Increase affordable housing stock Lobbying for government legislation In 2012 & beyond