Affordable Housing, Community Development, Homelessness, Supportive Housing

People Who Are Homeless Don’t Fit Your Stereotype

 

The Homeless - That word often applies only to the stereotype of the chronically homeless that we see so often on TV and in the media, unkempt men sleeping on benches.

But after my own brush with homelessness, I learned that nothing could be farther from the truth. Homelessness is a condition that transcends race and socioeconomic boundaries.  My struggle has made me stronger. Since that vulnerable time in my life, I have felt a deep desire to make a difference and work toward a day when no one will endure what I faced.

More than just building new and maintaining old supportive housing units, there is a need to provide supportive services,  especially for people  with mental illness. The fact that there are no supportive dollars for case management contributes to the revolving door of consumer services, and is costing emergency and institutional services huge amounts of revenue.

An example close to home is Middletown’s Middlesex Hospital.  According to the Middlesex Hospital Community Health Benefit Report FY2012, the expenditure of subsidized health services for low-income persons from 2009-2010 was $15,132,350 –and a large percentage of these people are the homeless and disadvantaged. All we did was create a new revolving door, from brief hospitalization to incarceration to homelessness.

There are many reasons a person becomes homeless. The average person in this area needs to make at least $24.00 an hour to afford housing. We know there are pilot programs aimed at getting people working, but the homeless population faces specific obstacles, and needs specialized help. How are our recently-elected leaders going to advocate for programs, training and jobs that will be substantial enough to have a meaningful effect on those suffering from housing insecurity?

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