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Posts Tagged ‘Interns’

Segmentation of the Homeless Population

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Uncategorized

Over the past few months, a lot of media attention has been given to President Obama’s plan to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Without a doubt, this plan is honorable, and was proposed with noble intentions. Veteran homelessness is a pressing issue, and with more soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of homeless veterans is set to increase. However, President Obama’s plan promotes the segmentation of the homeless population, a hidden issue that has been present since homelessness became a national problem.

Print by Pat Apt

The segmentation of the homeless population refers to the division of the homeless into different groups such as single mothers, family, female veterans, veterans, LGBT youth, and immigrants. The segmentation of the homeless population subsequently causes services and resources to be divided and provided exclusively for chosen groups. While any service or resource for the homeless is commendable, it becomes a problem when services remain geared towards certain homeless groups, not the entire homeless population.

It is difficult to create and implement a plan that will solve national homelessness, and it appears that for now, the government and other institutions  are focusing on eliminating homelessness of one group is more manageable.  However, that logic leaves other parts of the homeless population bereft of necessary services and resources. Dividing the homeless population into different categories and then choosing a specific group to cater to, indicates that one homeless group is more deserving of government and private resources than another group. This is not the message that should be portrayed by government initiatives to solve homelessness.

Homelessness needs to be tackled from all different angles, including the varying factors that contribute to homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, lack of access to affordable health care, unemployment, and decent living wages. Government initiatives that would take into account the different contributing factors that cause homelessness would be beneficial and a step closer to solving national homelessness, rather than just veteran homelessness. My suggestion is not meant to belittle President Obama’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, but rather, to bring awareness to the fact that segmenting the homeless population and solving it by groups is counterproductive to ending national homelessness. Ending veteran homelessness is an admirable goal, but providing access to affordable housing and healthcare and creating more jobs that provide decent living wages would certainly go a longer way to ending national homelessness and prevent the cycle from beginning once more.

-Sundal Ali, Intern

Homelessness is not a minor problem

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Speakers' Bureau

As our Executive Director Neil Donovan said in a “Traveling with Neil” video recently, homelessness cannot be solved by targeting sub-populations. However, they may provide volunteers, spectators, and politicians with a multidimensional view or homelessness beyond what stigmas or preconceived notions exist.

All sub-populations of people who become homeless experience the same needs: affordable housing, living wages, and proper protection of their civil rights. This goes for homeless youth, especially. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness’ 2011 Report “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the population of homeless children has increased by over a third since 2007, with the hardest hit areas being the rural South and California.

It’s no question that families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, especially since the recession. Along with family and all other growing kinds of homelessness, where does “youth” fit in?

Many educational statutes define a ‘child’ as being under the age of 18. Many children become homeless with their families. But another large group of under-18-year-olds find themselves homeless and with no family support.

Luckily there are many shelters and safe housing programs that do great work to ameliorate homelessness, although many define “youth” differently. Many youth shelters across the country, such as Aarti Hotel and El Rescate, can only hold youth until 24. The Homeless Youth Coalition classifies youth to a lesser range of 18-23 years old.  First Steps for Youth helps an even small youth range: 16-18 years old, including minors.

Still, after the age of 18, legal adulthood, a homeless person is still homeless. So where does youth end? Better yet, when does youth homelessness end?

I think those are the wrong questions. The right question is where does homelessness end? For a 17 year old,  we can combat homelessness by keeping them in school, giving them the resources to learning trade, helping them find and keep a job that pays a living wage, and making housing—both urban and rural—affordable. These are the same things that contributed to the 12% drop in homeless veterans last year. Why? Because they are proven to work for everybody.

Homelessness has many faces, and the youth of America are unfortunately among them. The good news is no new plans need to be drawn up specifically for the youth. We can still bring America home with housing justice, economic justice, and health care justice –by fulfilling the NCH mission statement:

To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.

-Jose Morales, NCH Spring 2012 Intern

What my NCH internship meant to me

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

A couple weeks ago we shared with you the stories of our current interns, who in their words described why they chose to work at the National Coalition for the Homeless.  Today, we share the below post from a past intern on how his experience with NCH shaped his professional career.

“It was 16 years ago that I came to the National Coalition for the Homeless as an intern from DePauw University.  At that time, I already had a little exposure to homelessness and poverty issues as a result of some of my coursework and as a volunteer at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, IN. However, I had no idea what a lasting impact that spring and summer at NCH would have on me.

At NCH, I was surrounded by a wonderful and dedicated group of advocates, including staff, volunteers, and other interns from across the country.  It is an understatement to say that it was an inspiring group to be a part of.  Everyone exhibited a confidence that things could be different, that seemingly unsolvable problems could be addressed, and that we could achieve a fairer system for all, even in the face of what seemed to be insurmountable hurdles.  It was always uplifting to be in an environment with people pushing for big change.

As an intern, I got a glimpse of the policy work being done to address the needs of homeless individuals.  This was a new experience for me.  It was the abstract, “back-office” work that I wasn’t exposed to as a direct service volunteer.  And it was a needed and important reminder to me of how little attention is given to issues affecting poor people by our elected officials.

I really believe my work with NCH has influenced my career decisions. While I haven’t focused on homelessness or housing issues, I have continued to be involved in social justice issues and poor people’s issues as a criminal defense attorney representing people who cannot afford an attorney.  I currently work at the Innocence Project representing individuals in prison who have maintained their innocence and who are seeking to prove that they were wrongfully convicted. Without a doubt, my experiences at NCH solidified my path in public interest law.”

By Jason Kreag
Staff Attorney
The Innocence Project

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