Some sobering stats when thinking about the fallout from last year. Now entire families, like the one pictured above, are living out of a single hotel. And those are the lucky ones.
Although the number of homeless individuals remained relatively stable between 2007 and 2008, the number of homeless families rose 9 percent, and in rural and suburban areas the number jumped by 56 percent, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In real terms, homelessness is still concentrated in urban areas and among adult males; 20 percent of homeless people live in Los Angeles, New York and Detroit. About 1.6 million people used an emergency shelter between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008, including 516,700 people in families. […]
“The typical homeless person has changed to become less focused on the chronically homeless or single-individual homeless to somebody who is part of a family, whether it be a mother or a father or a child in a homeless family,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said. “I think what that tells us is that the economic crisis is forcing more families who had previously been well-housed into homelessness.”
That 56% jump is pretty insane and speaks to how much people need the basics right now. Especially children. Because free access to good health care becomes that much more important when kids don’t have a home. And not just for physical illnesses. The homeless are much more prone to mental illnesses due to poor diet, feelings of hopelessness, easier access to narcotics, higher incidences of sexual abuse and many other factors.
This is one of the reasons why the administration insisted that health care and unemployment benefits make up a large majority of the stimulus funding. Because it doesn’t do us any good to have these folks out on the street since it’ll cost more in the long run to treat them when they get sick/injured or if they turn to a life of crime to make ends meet. That may sound like nanny state stuff for some who read this blog, but I’d rather deal with these problems now and pay a few thousand dollars to keep folks like these in their homes instead of pay tens of thousands to jail them, treat their mental illnesses, etc.