Thursday, December 27, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Even though the average amount of public assistance was consistently lower by the time they exited and taxable income was higher, in some years it was barely so. Parents who came in with jobs in 2008 and 2009, lost them, and could only find part-time or lower paying jobs. Their jobs alone didn’t pay nearly enough to adequately feed and house their families.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The sixth policy brief from the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH) spotlights Mom’s health as big factor when financially fragile families become homeless.
It isn’t really surprising when you think about it, and we see it quite often in the homeless families who come into our program.
All poor women “experience physical and mental health challenges at greater rates than their non-poor counterparts. Poor women often lack access to health care and are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors than those who are not poor. Women and children living in poverty are also exposed to physical and social environments, such as unsafe neighborhoods, toxins, and social isolation, which in addition to stress from the experience of poverty itself can be damaging to health. Residential crowding and poor housing quality have also been linked to adverse health outcomes.”
It follows that health problems can make it difficult for poor women to stay employed and maintain any kind of stability. They are less likely to have jobs with paid sick leave and flexible child care than women who aren’t poor. About 10% of very low income women on welfare lose their jobs due to poor health.
Not just single parent families are vulnerable to homelessness if Mom is in poor health. A number of our two-parent families became homeless when family income plummeted because Mom lost her job as a result of a difficult pregnancy or other health issues.
There aren’t any easy answers to improving the health of very low income families. While homeless children have Medicaid, the parents have no health care coverage. They rely on emergency room visits rather than an ongoing doctor/patient relationship.
What we can do is give them a safe, stable place to live for a while and the counseling to deal with their mental health issues. We can advocate for our clients in managing their own health care and equip them to better manage it after they leave for their own permanent homes.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
2011 was a complex year for Community LINC. Thanks to our donors, we were able to provide a home for homeless families and services that equip them for independence. We were able to make some needed building repairs. We began to comprehend the building repairs that are still needed (the bad news), assessed our program performance (the good news) and developed a strategic plan to guide us through 2014.
But, the U.S. poverty rate was the highest since 1993 and our waiting list averaged more than 70 families each month. Homeless families did not share in the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s 4th quarter 2011 Low and Moderate Income Survey (LMI) confirms that “the financial status of the LMI community continues to deteriorate.” Jobs that pay well are still few and far between and our residents often lack the skills to compete effectively for those jobs. Affordable housing is still in short supply, with the wait time for subsidized housing in Kansas City increasing to five years.
Despite all of the barriers, about 70% of our families left for permanent homes in 2011. The 38 families who exited saved an astounding average of $1,500 apiece. Moreover, the cumulative increase in taxable earnings of the families who have left since 2007 exceeded $600,000 and the decrease in public assistance was almost $200,000.
Our families are successful because we screen for people both willing and able to make a life change and then equip them for independence and self-sufficiency. Our new mission statement says it all - “to end homelessness, impact poverty, and remove the barriers to self-sufficiency for the families we serve.”
Each year, I’m inspired by everyone I encounter through Community LINC - the families who have committed to a life change, the staff who have made this mission their lives, the volunteers who give their time for people they never met, and the donors willing to give strangers a proverbial “hand up.” In 2012 we will pilot two new programs to extend our services to more families and serve that extensive waiting list. I hope that you will choose to be a part of this meaningful mission.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Having a friend, or more formally, a support system, is something that differentiates poor mothers who don’t slide into homelessness from those who do.
The fifth policy brief from the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH) on the characteristics of fragile families who become homeless makes a number of points. But, the key role of family and friends is the one that struck me the most.
If a poor mother has support from family and friends, she will be able to work more, she will earn more, and she will rely less on welfare than those with weaker bonds.
So, why would that be the case?
The safety net of family and friends relieves some of the financial strains of poverty – they help with groceries, diapers, clothing, and rent. Family and friends who can help out in an emergency with child care or transportation make it possible for a poor mom to get to work and can mean the difference between keeping and losing a job.
The picture for poor mothers who have weak or erratic support is bleak. They struggle to get a foothold in the labor market and end up homeless more often than their counterparts with strong support.
It’s hard to prove or disprove, but we’ve always felt that one of the reasons our program is so successful in transitioning families out of homelessness, is that we give them a readymade community of support. The families live together on a single campus. The adults attend life skills classes and mental wellness groups together. The children play and study together in their classes. They meet other people at the same place in their lives and making the same life changes. They watch out for each other’s kids. They give each other rides.
First they have new neighbors and then they have new friends. And, now we know how important those friendships can be.