Welcome To the "Ordinary Faces" Channel of the Daily Outsider Network (http://www.thedailyoutsider.com)
A Daily "Thought"
View of the Week (Weekly Edition): On The Homeless
Our team joined the 2017 Point in Time Survey. We are pleased to present this for review:
2017 Point-in-Time Homeless Count & Survey Update
Dear PIT Volunteer:
We hope you are enjoying the summer, and want to thank you once again for your participation in the January 28, 2017 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count & Survey! As you know, we conduct the PIT Count to better understand our community, and to collect information needed in order to solve the issue of homelessness in Orange County. While conducting the PIT, and submitting the results to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is a requirement in order for community agencies to receive funding to help house those in need, it’s important to remember it’s only a snapshot of the work done in our community to end homelessness.
The PIT Count & Survey findings show an increase in numbers of people experiencing homelessness. 4,792 people were identified as homeless, either on the street or in shelters, a 7.6% increase from 2015 PIT Count. In the past two years, we have seen an 11% increase in people dialing 2-1-1, looking for help, with almost 32% of these individuals looking for housing assistance (whether rental assistance, affordable housing, shelters, etc.). (Click here to access the Trends Report.) We have also seen close to 10% of all calls/web searches focused on the need for food assistance and over 9% of the calls looking for mental health or substance abuse help (an increase of 25.6% from the previous year).
To view a presentation on data collected from the 2017 PIT Count & Survey, please click on the link below.
Lastly, we are continuing to provide additional educational programs for our volunteers. We would like to invite you, your family members and friends to attend an educational program and experience a tour of our 2-1-1 Call Center, listening to calls from people looking for assistance. The event is tentatively planned for late August. Look for more details to follow by the end of July.
Working together, we are making a difference in the lives of women, men and children experiencing homelessness and in need of our support. Let’s stay connected, and please visit our website at www.211oc.org for volunteer opportunities.
We value your commitment and appreciate your dedication to helping those in need! Please share the word that all you need to do is dial 2-1-1 to find the help you need.
Sincerely, The Point-in-Time Count Team 2-1-1 Orange County
Please also note this on the latest courtesy of the Guardian of London on the plight of the homeless in America:
Chronicling homelessness: the summer heat takes a brutal toll
With temperatures in some major metropolitan areas pushing upward of 100F, the fundamental physical circumstances of homelessness take on a new urgency
Homeless people take shelter from the sun in Phoenix. Photograph: Stephen Denton for the Guardian
As temperatures tick up across the country – around 100F in Los Angeles, almost 120F in Phoenix – and I find I sometimes have to sit directly in front of a fan in order to get any work done, it’s hard not to think guiltily of those with no such option. We reported recently about a homeless Arizona man who had no shoes and was found crawling across burning asphalt, and a woman who told us it was so hot on the streets, even at night, that she woke every hour to douse her hair with water.
Of all the hardships of homelessness, it is the fundamental physical circumstances – exposure to the elements, the struggle to keep clean, the discomfort of bedding down on concrete – that are often the most piercing. On Skid Row in Los Angeles, there are only nine toilets available to the 1,800 people sleeping on the streets at night. According to the authors of a recent report, this contravenes a UN standard for long term refugee camps, which specifies one toilet for 20 people at the most.
All of this means that the things you least expect can have a transformative effect. At 9.30pm on a chilly night a few months ago, a Guardian colleague and I met up with Rev Lyle Beckman, who leads a so-called night ministry – he patrols the streets of the Tenderloin district during the hours of darkness. As we were leaving his office, he suggested we fill our pockets with some socks he had in boxes. Outside we passed people sleeping in doorways and on sidewalks. When Beckman asked what they needed, a few named items we couldn’t give – a cigarette, a dollar. But when Beckman proffered a pair of socks, the surprisingly enthusiastic response made it clear how much more important they were.
As many advocates would probably say, a pair of socks is no substitute for the tens of billions of dollars that the federal government is underinvesting in affordable housing. But for a person who is on their feet all day or who can’t get dry after a rain storm, they are something.
Frank Almada, who lives in this RV in Palo Alto, where the median home value is $2.5m. Photograph: Alastair Gee for the Guardian
Behind the scenes
I often wonder how homeless people navigate the relationship with family members who are still housed. Earlier this month I drove down to Silicon Valley to report on the 40 or so RVs that had parked along a main road in Palo Alto, one of the wealthiest towns in the country. I knocked on the door of every one in the hope of finding someone to talk to, and eventually Frank Aldama, 56, invited me inside. His RV was built in 1988, and its age showed in the tatty carpet and faded interior. But Frank kept it immaculate: he swept every day and sprayed Febreze on the carpet.
I felt lonely for Frank. Not only had his addictions ruined his finances, they had separated him from his children. He tried to communicate with them on Facebook but said they had blocked him. “They don’t know if I’m going to stay clean, maybe they have bad memories of how I was before,” he said. “But I love them.”
He still has his mother, who helps to keep him going. He can’t stay with her – she is a live-in nurse and only rents a room for herself – but she calls him, perhaps twice a day, to see how he’s doing. In some ways the care she provides to him now is the kind of care she might have provided decades ago, when he was a child. “She calls me because I can’t sleep at night,” Aldama said. “She tells me to read my Bible, and I’ll fall asleep.”
The past life of a California highway patrol officer: “Whenever I doubt myself now I think, ‘You used to eat garbage,’” he said. “There is not much worse you can go through.” [The Sacramento Bee]
A homeless man makes it through the winter living outdoors at a Utah ski resort. [The Park Record]
“I’m willing to bet that there’s no homeless housing like this anywhere else in the United States.” [The Spokesman-Review]
A marijuana-funded homeless shelter opens in Colorado. [Denver7]
Business leaders from the worlds of baseball and chain restaurants plan to build tent-shelters in San Diego. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
A new shelter opens in San Francisco, and the number of tents appears to drop in surrounding streets. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Clement Smith on his property outside Denver. Photograph: Denver7
Last but not least
As a child, Clement Smith suffered from dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, which went undiagnosed. At school, “they told my parents I was retarded”, he said, and he wasn’t taught properly to read or write, later hindering him as he looked for work. He has been homeless off and on for his entire adult life. Now 54 and living in Colorado, he has turned things around – almost.
When his mother passed away in 2015 she left him an inheritance, which he has invested in an 11.33-acre piece of land in the mountains south-west of Denver. “I’ve been on the homeless circuit, in campgrounds and outside Walgreens, and that’s the dream,” he said.
But he’s facing mounting fines because of code violations linked to the presence on the property of his RV, in which he is living, and a shipping container he uses for storage. Smith says he has only just moved in and needs time to get his ship in order; he’s worried he’ll lose the toehold of stability he has established. In the meantime, locals have rallied around him, creating a Facebook group and a GoFundMe campaign. Smith is riled by what seems like undue governmental interference, and he hopes to take legal action, not least because he has heard of a family in a similar situation. “I want to make it right for them to be on their property, and me to be on mine, and everyone like me.”