Homeless families with children are on the rise. As the economic crisis continues, more families find themselves without shelter. Government assistance and charitable resources are becoming scarce as more and more people find themselves having to use these resources as circumstances slip out of their control.
The top five reasons for the rise in homelessness among families:
- Domestic violence
- Low-paying jobs
- Lack of affordable housing
“A third of all families with children (13.4 million families) have incomes less than twice the federal poverty line. A sudden job loss or health crisis could derail them. Tax credits, food stamps, child care subsidies, and other work supports help. But they don’t always close the gap between earnings and basic needs.” (Urban.org)
According to National Coalition For The Homeless, families will sacrifice home ownership to pay for immediate necessities.
Majority of mid-level wage jobs no longer keep up with the costs of living. Home ownership and renting a one bedroom apartment is now out of reach for millions of Americans.
1 out of 4 women are abused in their relationship while 1 out of 33 men are abused in their relationships. The majority of domestic abused victims are women. Abused women will have to choose between staying in a dangerous relationship or homelessness. Shelters, lacking resources, often turn away battered women and their children.
The Unemployed Stay Unemployed
50% of fathers are unemployed. (www.familyhomelessness.org) A growing trend among some employers is to hire applicants that already have employment. During periods of massive lay-offs and terminations, hiring companies believe that many unemployed applicants are those with unsavory characteristics. This is a harmful myth. Many people, that lost their jobs, found their positions terminated, mostly, due to financial hardships on the company or a company closing. There are many ways to explain a loss of employment, but discrimination, based on a myth, is not the reason to keep eligible workers unemployed. (National Employment Law Project)
Other Causes of Continuous Unemployment Include:
- Government lay-offs
- Lack of economic growth
- Fewer job openings
- Jobs moving overseas to China and India
Underemployment and Low-Paying Jobs
Employers have their pick of the crop with the glut of unemployed individuals on the market. Many companies have been able to choose workers that are over qualified for low paying positions and maintain their employment at part-time hours.
Minimum and low paying jobs were popularly associated with teenagers and supplemental income seekers. The reality is the majority of minimum wage and low paying jobs are occupied by men and women with families. More of those jobs were taken by adults and teenagers are now at a 20% unemployment rate. Only 28% of these jobs are occupied by teenagers.
Lack of Affordable Housing
Other factors that contribute to homelessness include lack of affordable housing, public housing and tightening welfare reform. Large populations of people, seeking assistance, have placed a strain on resources meant to help temporarily. As the economic crisis continues, temporary forms of assistance are used up and many families find themselves without a safety net. People, that find themselves losing their homes, are hard press to find resources, assistance or help that normally would lift them out of poverty.
Hardest Hit Victims Are Children
The U.S. Census Bureau stated children made up 39% of people living in poverty. The poverty rate for children is almost as high as any other age group. The most vulnerable subgroups of adolescents are preschool-aged children, followed by youth. (HoustonISD.org)
Young homeless children suffer a unique debilitating set of circumstances. Preschool-aged children are refused school services due to liability. Many public schools have had to cut preschool programs and the number of children allowed admission.
Preschool-aged children often do not have clothing, transportation, school or medical records to stay enrolled; can not acquire supplies, adequate personal hygiene or guardian support.
Homeless children also have to go where their families go. Families seeking shelter and food take priority over school. Without social connection and education, homeless children are at higher risk for delayed development, often under served by special education services, more likely to become sick and at a higher risk to fail school due to absences. (National Coalition For The Homeless)
Homeless children are at risk for child welfare intervention. Child Protective services and programs have also experienced cuts in funding. The ability to adequately provide for children during the recession has placed the CPS and related services under scrutiny.