Sunday, March 8, 2015

Homelessness: A Solution That Saves You Money

The Problem

Most of us are an accident away from becoming homeless. Or an illness away. Or a job loss away.

Anyone can become homeless.

Only 15% of the homeless are those individuals we so often think of as “the homeless.” Most are families. Usually one parent families. The average age is nine.

Remember the scruffy man on the street corner holding the barely legible cardboard sign: “Will work for food?” Even if you stopped and bought him a meal, you know that’s not a real long-term solution. Right?

So, what is?

The Solution

More and more states and cities are finding that by offering the homeless places to live of their own, not only helps these unfortunate individuals, it also saves the city and state money—a lot of money.

Huffington Post recently reported that Camden, N.J. will be providing apartments to the homeless. Those who have jobs will pay a portion of their rent. 

The state of Utah has been providing permanent housing and case management services to their homeless population for about ten years.

This program has reduced their homeless population by 72% and has saved the state a bundle of money.

How is that possible?

Here’s how:

In Utah, a homeless person living in shelters and eating at soup kitchens costs taxpayers $19,200 per year. The cost includes emergency room visits, health care, jail, and other expenses that are paid by taxpayers.

To provide that homeless person with a permanent home and case management services costs the taxpayers $7800 per year—a savings of $11,400 per person per year.

In Florida they found that a similar program saved the taxpayers about $21,000 per homeless person per year.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that providing homes for the homeless should take priority over other services.

Think about it: how much harder would it be to deal with an addiction problem or getting cleaned up for a job interview if you’re living on the streets.

Persons who are homeless spend more time in jail which is very costly to local and state governments. Often, they are in jail for “crimes” that target the homeless such as loitering, sleeping in public places, and asking passersby for a handout.
Emergency shelter is a costly alternative to permanent housing.

Studies have shown that, in real dollars, providing people experiencing chronic homelessness with permanent supportive housing saves taxpayers money.

A few examples:
·         Seattle—a savings of $2,449 per person per month when homeless persons with severe alcohol problems and other medical and mental health issues were placed in residences instead of conventional shelters.

·  Rural Portland, ME—found significant cost reductions when providing permanent supportive housing as opposed to serving the people while they remain homeless.

·  Los Angeles—found that placing four chronically homeless people into permanent supportive housing saved the city more than $80,000 per year.

What You Can Do?

Check out National Alliance to End Homelessness.

The Alliance provides trainings, toolkits, webinars, and guides designed to provide practitioners and community leaders with skills and strategies to successfully understand and implement rapid re-housing as part of a larger, system-wide approach to ending homelessness.

Do we want to pass laws that throw people in jail for sitting on the sidewalk, or develop programs that can make homeless citizens into productive citizens and save money at the same time?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Racism in Disguise. What You Should Know.

So, we can check off racism as one social problem solved? Right?

√  Racism—taken care of…

Not really.

Even though we elected a black man for president in 2008. 
Did it again in 2012.

And even though Oprah Winfrey is one of the wealthiest and most respected women in America—

Consider the following:

Which country incarcerates the largest number of its racial and ethnic minorities?

___ China
___ Russia
___ Iran
___ United States

No other country in the world incarcerates so many of its racial or ethnic minorities as the United States. The US imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, surpassing Russia, China, and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the US, the rate is 750 per 100,000.

I know what you’re thinking…

But Isn’t That Because of the War on Drugs?

The drug war does account for most of the increase in our prison population.

But if you think the War on Drugs began because of crack cocaine…think again. President Reagan announced the War on Drugs in 1982, before crack cocaine became an issue in neighborhoods or the media.

Drug crime was actually decreasing when the War on Drugs began.

Check This Out—
Studies show that people of all colors use and sell drugs at similar rates. Even though studies indicate that white youth are involved in drug crime at a higher rate than youth of color, our jails and prisons are overflowing with black and brown drug offenders.

So, what’s going on?
Penal System or Social Control?

In 1972 fewer than 350,000 people were in prisons and jails nationwide. Today—over 2 million.

One in three young African American men will serve time in prison if current trends continue.
In some cities more than half of all young Black men are in prison or on probation or parole.

The primary targets of the American Penal system can be defined largely by race.

Crime rates in other western countries are about the same as in the US.
While incarceration rates in other western countries have decreased or remained the same—
incarceration rates in the US have mushroomed.

 This mass incarceration is more than just the criminal justice system.
There is also the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those who are labeled criminals…even after they leave prison.

Mass incarceration is the most damaging backlash against the Civil Rights Movement.

Life After Prison

This system of control permanently blocks a huge percentage of the African American community from participating in mainstream society.”

Former inmates are often denied the right to vote, excluded from juries, kept from jobs and housing, and relegated to a subordinated existence.

These laws, regulations, and informal rules, all reinforced by social stigma, confine former inmates to the margins of mainstream society much as second class citizenship during the Jim Crow era. 

What Can You Do?

For a more in-depth discussion, read THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS by legal scholar Michelle Alexander. Well-written, informative, and well documented.
Check it out at: (Much of the information for this blog came from Alexander’s book.)

To thrive, this system needs for each of us to remain indifferent.
Consider writing letters to editors of local newspapers to alert others of the need for penal reform.

Contact your congressman to push for penal reform, especially ending the War on Drugs.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.


Monday, February 9, 2015

If You Are Male or Female or Know Someone Who is, You Must Read This

One Billion Rising: A Movement You Need to Know About

One Billion what?

One in three women on the planet will be physically abused during their lifetime.

That’s one billion people.

So, What’s One Billion Rising?

Paradigm shift

On Valentine’s Day, millions of people around the world will dance, perform theater, drum, and find other ways to raise awareness of this violent epidemic.

Men and women will stand up and demand ENOUGH!!!

What Can You Do?

             Go to to learn more.

        To be moved, I mean seriously jolted, watch Break the Chain” at
      Four minutes and twenty-nine seconds of pure passion.

           If there is a One Billion Rising event in your area, participate.

             If there is not one, start one.