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8th March
2011
written by naehblog

On Sunday, the CBS program “60 Minutes” ran a segment about homeless children.

As you may have seen on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, the segment was very compelling. Children confessed to their shame, embarrassment, and fear; parents spoke of their guilt and desperation; and a local homeless liaison added some context to the situation, explaining how homelessness has not only affected more and more people in her community, but tends to last longer than in the past. Reporter Scott Pelley painted a vivid, gripping portrait of poverty, unemployment, and the toll that economic hardship has on the most vulnerable among us: children.

But what the segment does not examine is solutions.

The segment is right to note that homelessness in growing. In our latest report, we identify that homelessness has increased since the beginning of the recession and that economic indicators of homelessness suggest that the number will rise again before decreasing.

But there are things we can do.

The long and short is usually this: housing. Families experience homelessness when they cannot find housing they can afford. In the segment, we saw that unemployment was often the catalyst to families and children experiencing homelessness.

When families are at-risk of experiencing homelessness, communities and agencies can intervene with an array of services to curb homelessness before it starts. Often, families can seek federal assistance, including TANF to supplement their family resources to prevent homelessness.

Should homelessness occur, communities can work swiftly to ensure that families and children move out of homelessness with a strategy called rapid re-housing. As the segment portrayed, elongated periods of homelessness can have a debilitating effect on the entire family unit. As such, it is often far more effective to find housing first; permanent housing is often the foundation necessary for a family to seek employment, continue education, and build the stability to move forward.

It seems simple and absurdly obvious – the solution to homelessness is housing. But it’s remarkable how often it needs to be said. When a family or child [or individual] becomes homeless, the solution is first and foremost – housing. From that place of stability, many if not most are able to work out the challenges that lead to their homelessness: unemployment, familial conflict, medical conditions, etc.

To watch the 60 Minute segment on homeless children, please visit the CBS website. To learn more about homeless children and families, please see the Alliance website.

2 Comments

  1. 08/03/2011

    Thanks so much for saying it again, housing is the solution to homelessness. I agree, we can’t say it enough. In London, Ontario, the ‘urgent need’ wait list for housing, which includes families, is 2-3 years.

  2. 11/03/2011

    “The Hard Times Generation”
    How Celebration, Florida is Helping The Homeless Children Population

    The Celebration Foundation is tackling a small part of the problems facing 1250 children in Osceola County dealing with homelessness. On Sunday, March 6 CBS’s 60 Minutes did a spotlight on the plight of “The Hard Times Generation” – the children growing up in hotels in Osceola and Seminole County. The combined effort with the Osceola School District, Celebration Town Hall, area churches, Celebration Rotary, other civic and service groups and fellow students, is helping make life a little easier for these children.

    Identified by the school district as “families in transition”, these children range from those living in tents, to shelters, to shared housing, or most commonly, the hotels that dot Highway 192. Many parents have lost their homes due to the downturn in the economy and cannot afford the first and last month’s rent and security deposit required by area apartments, so moving into a hotel room has become an all-too typical solution. School busses stop at these hotels and transport them to school.

    The highest concentration of these high school students is at Celebration High School, and the numbers are expected to triple by August, according to Homeless Education Liaison for Osceola School District, Meredith Griffin. Celebration resident Risa Wight is spearheading the effort. “In Osceola County, where a school uniform is required, these children tend to blend in with everyone else, which is ideal. We want to keep it that way. The school district can only provide each of these children with two shirts, but when laundry facilities are not present, two is not enough. Our goal is to make sure each child has five shirts, a belt and two pairs of pants.”

    The Celebration Foundation is raising money and collecting uniforms so that these children can continue to look like their peers. In addition, the group is working on a food drive, and working with Orlando-based Clean The World to provide personal hygiene products to the most needy children. “The fellow students at Celebration High School have been wonderful. They have donated so much clothing of their own – gently used uniforms they have outgrown or don’t wear, and the student Interact Club has formed a clothing closet where anyone in need can get clothing, soap, shampoos and more,” commented Risa Wight. “This is another example where the town has really pulled together. The residents of Celebration are turning this sad plight into a success story.”

    About the Celebration Foundation:
    The Celebration Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization established March, 1996 to promote and conduct community-building activities in Celebration, Florida.

    Contact:
    The Celebration Foundation
    610 Sycamore Street, Suite 110
    Celebration, FL 34747
    407-566-1234

    Contact: Debie McDonald
    staff@thecelebrationfoundation.org