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Guest Post: Living in a Storage Unit – How Common Is It?

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness

Living in a Storage Unit: How Common Is It? by Elizabeth Whalen,  Guest Writer from Sparefoot.com

Living in a self-storage unit is neither safe nor legal, but it does occur – for a variety of reasons. According to a SpareFoot survey of nonprofits that help the homeless, it’s unusual but not unheard of.

“Being homeless, according to a friend, is like being a turtle,” said Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition for the Homeless. “You’re carrying everything you own on your back.”

Homeless people typically rent storage units to keep their most precious belongings safe and to preserve what they can of their former life, according to Stoops.

For the survey, SpareFoot contacted 100 homeless services organizations in the country’s 50 most populated metro areas. SpareFoot received 41 responses from nonprofits in 30 of those metro areas. The organizations that responded to the survey serve more than 120,000 people a year. Most provide emergency shelter, and many also provide transitional and long-term services, such as job training and health care.

The survey results: Five organizations (12 percent) responded that current or recent clients had lived in a storage unit and reported 14 such cases within the past three years. Five more responded they’d heard about people doing this, but had no specific reports from current or recent clients. The remaining 31 (76 percent) had not heard of people living in storage units.

“The majority of homeless folks are just like you and I,” Stoops said. “They’re chronically normal. All they need is a place they can afford to live in, a job that pays a decent wage and health care.”

To read the entire blog post, visit Sparefoot.com.

Awareness & Action – Youth Homelessness in America

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Education, Youth

YouthHomelessness

 

There are nearly half a million unaccompanied young people in this country who experience homelessness each year. They are on their own, without parental or institutional support, trying to navigate a complicated system at a time in their lives when everything is already uncertain and often difficult.

Stability is fundamental for proper mental and physical development and for the chance to receive a decent education. We cannot abide the current youth homelessness crisis. We, at NCH, are spearheading the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, along with the Ali Forney Center in NYC, to demand that every young person in America has access to safe shelter.

You can do your part by joining the National Campaign for Youth Shelter and fighting for homeless youths in your community!

Growing Crisis in D.C.

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Families, Housing, Policy Advocacy, Prevention, Shelter

Growing Crisis Takes Over D.C. – Auburn Trotter, NCH Intern

When I moved to DC to intern with NCH, I knew that I would gain a new perspective on the housing policies in America, but never did I think that the nation’s capitol would be suffering from such a crisis. In January 2014, a Point-in-Time count showed that a total of 7,748 people experienced homelessness  in the District of Columbia. This number increased 12.9%  from the previous year’s count. While cities surrounding the metropolitan area have decreased their homeless populations, the District has not seen much change. In fact, D.C.’s homeless population continues to rise at an alarming rate.

It’s important to first recognize that there are city officials who have fought hard to push forward possible solutions to this issue. It wouldn’t be fair to say that our officials haven’t done anything to try and curb this issue. Legislation has been introduced and passed. Plans to transition families from shelters to permanent homes are being strategized. Our leaders have the will to address the issue but even with these efforts the problem has continued to spiral out of control. So the lingering question becomes, why does homelessness continue to exist at a crisis level in the nation’s capital? The answer is two simple words: affordable housing!

There are many reasons that people find themselves homeless, but the lack of affordable housing remains one of the leading causes. With rents rising all around the city, what are people left to do? Some would say “go live with friends or relatives,” but a majority of the time families do not have room to accommodate others in their living space. So the next natural answer would be to report to the Public Housing Authority (PHA) and seek assistance. Thanks to the 2013 sequester and budget cuts, this has become a dead-end option. With funds being cut by 5%, PHAs across the country encounter difficulties trying to serve those in need. In fact, DC’s housing authority closed its Section 8 voucher wait list, which contained 70,000 people at the time, in April of 2013 and has not re-opened since.

After being told “NO” on several instances, the next and last resort for many people is a shelter. Many of the residents at D.C. General emergency shelter, the area’s largest family shelter, will tell you that they are thankful for the shelter and for having a roof over their heads, but it is not a place where they want to be raising a family. Many have jobs where they work long hours, just to receive a poverty level income. City officials want them to apply for assistance programs where, after their time in the program has ended, they face a rent payment of $900-$1200 depending on the size of the apartment.

Homelessness and increasing rents are serious issues that need an urgent response.  Ultimately, the homeless crisis will continue to get worse unless the city invests in sustainable, affordable housing for its residents. A strong housing policy could significantly reduce the size of our current homeless population and prevent thousands of others from losing their homes. There is no reason that we cannot decrease homelessness in our city. But we must all take action.

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