Presentation on theme: "Homeless and Poor in Ventura County Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D. Professor of Economics and Co-Director of Center for Leadership and Values November 2005."— Presentation transcript:
Homeless and Poor in Ventura County Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D. Professor of Economics and Co-Director of Center for Leadership and Values November 2005
Definition of Home and Homelessness Definitions of homelessness are inextricably linked with the meaning and reality of home. The definitions of homelessness used for this research relate to the physical and social aspects of homelessness. In general homelessness has two interconnected dimensions: a lack of secure affordable accommodation; and the fracturing of relationships with families and communities of origin. A person as being homeless ‘if and only if, he or she has inadequate access to safe and secure housing.
Impact of Homelessness on a Person/Family Damages are likely to create adverse impact on the person’s health Threatens the person’s safety Marginalizes the person through failing to provide access to: – adequate personal amenities – the economic or social supports that a home normally affords places the person in circumstances which threaten or adversely affect the adequacy, safety, security or affordability of that housing.
Different Types of Homelessness Primary Homelessness: People without conventional accommodation, such as people living on streets, sleeping in parks, squatting in derelict buildings, or using cars or railway carriages for temporary shelter. Secondary Homelessness : People who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another. It covers: people using emergency accommodation (such as hostels for the homeless or night shelters); teenagers staying in youth refuges; women and children escaping domestic violence (staying in women’s refuges); people residing temporarily with other families (because they have no accommodation of their own); and those using boarding houses on an occasional or intermittent basis.
Different Types of Homelessness Continued… Tertiary homelessness: People who live in boarding houses on a medium to long-term basis. Residents of private boarding houses do not have a separate bedroom and living room; they do not have kitchen and bathroom facilities of their own; their accommodation is not self-contained; and they do not have security of tenure provided by a lease. Chronically (Long-term) homeless: are those on a low income or no income. They frequently have characteristics that hamper their ability to search for scarce low income housing, such as substance abuse issues, psychiatric disability and/or volatility. Their lives often revolve around daily survival. A survivalist orientation makes it difficult for them to focus on longer term goals. In order to maintain any level of improvement in the quality of their lives, people in this group require a continuing level of care.
Different Types of Homelessness Continued… Episodically homeless: are described as being highly motivated to find permanent housing, however, they are typically unprepared for independent living. Due to a range of factors such as substance abuse, mental illness and volatility it is difficult for them to find and maintain independent housing in a market of scarce resources. They often have histories of unresolved crises that have led to their minimal functioning. Frequently they present a picture of resignation and hopelessness. This group need long-term care. Situationally homeless: are described as lacking shelter because of an acute crisis and are usually for the first time. They respond well to short-term crisis intervention, including emotional support, help setting priorities, advocacy for community support, and concrete help with basic needs. Once they find affordable housing, they move quickly to re-establish independent living.
Economic Causes of Homelessness Low Income Rise of Low Paying Jobs in Communities – The Big Picture (globalization and Its impact on domestic labor force). – Labor Market Structure (race to bottom: Impact of Walmartization). – Demise of Labor Union – Lack of or weak community based advocacy Education and Labor Market
Economic Causes of Homelessness, Continued… Government Fiscal Policies and Inadequate Support to Reduce Poverty, Particularly Among Children Cost of Housing (Caused by production bottlenecks, market structure of rental properties, etc.) Lack of Local Initiatives in Absence of Needed State or Federal Measures to help poor and reduce poverty.
A Glace at Ventura County and other Surrounding Communities Poverty in General, Among Women Single- Headed households. Wage and Salary Depression Education and Labor Market Future Jobs in the County: Are they going to be better paid? Faces of Homeless in the County What can be done?
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County According to data gathered from surveys, questionnaires, database statistics, and information from service providers, the County has a homeless population of approximately 3,000 to 4,000 individuals and 300 to 400 families. Additional information suggests that homelessness in the County is increasing and the number of persons at risk of homelessness is increasing. The increased cost of housing, the decline in vacancy rates and lag in housing production have contributed to the increased homeless population. Other trends include: an increasing number of homeless young people age 18- 25 years; increasing numbers of persons on fixed incomes who may be at risk of becoming homeless; and, lack of appropriate housing services for homeless adults seeking reunification with children.
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County, Continued… The information presented in this section are taken from “Lessons from the Flood: A survey of Homeless Persons in Ventura County, February 24, 2005” Sponsored and Conducted by the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition Demographic Profile of the Homeless in Ventura County 54% (for the 4th year in a row) who were in the shelter were women and children. 50% are under 6 years of age 116 of these children are waiting to be reunited with their parents 14% of the population of homeless are veterans 86% were regular Ventura County residents. 63% have lived in the county in the last 10 year. 54% were using the shelter for the first time (new homeless?) 48% had been homeless 6 months or less (Indicating a rise?)
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County, Continued… Work Status/ Public Assistance of Homeless (a historic comparison) 18% are working (32% last year) 8% received CalWORKS assistance (same as last year) 16% receive Food Stamps (17% last year) 15% receive SSI/SDI (13% last year) 34% have no income (31% last year)
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County, Continued… Educational Attainment of Our Homeless in Ventura Count 41% are high school or GED graduates 27% have attended college
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County, Continued… Health Status of Homeless Population 31% were hospitalized in the last 12 months 37% named a health problem they were concerned about 27% are mentally disabled 28% are physically disabled 43% deal with issue of alcohol or drugs
The Face of Homeless in Ventura County, Continued… Where Homeless Stay When Shelters are Closed More than a third (some 39%) literally sleep outdoors when shelters are closed. Another 12% sleep in cars.
Profile of Hunger and Food Insecurity in Ventura County The information in this part is taken from California Food Policy Advocates in 2003 report entitled “Touched by Hunger: a County by County Report of Food Insecurity in California Estimated Number of Low-Income Adults Reporting Hunger or Food Insecurity in Ventura: 30,000 Estimated number of other persons living in these households:102,000 Total Number “Touched” by Hunger and Food Insecurity in Ventura > 132,000 Estimated number of kids eligible for free/reduced price school breakfast: 43,403 Estimated number of eligible kids not getting free/reduced price breakfast in Ventura: 27,505 Estimated amount of lost federal resources resulting from the unserved breakfasts: $5,226,402
What Do We Learn from Putting human Face on our Homeless and What Can Be Done? There is not much difference between the profile of homeless in Ventura County or other neighboring communities. They are our children, poor, sick, needy, disabled, and single women headed household who are suffering. Children are our future, ignoring them is to write off the most valuable segment of our potential future human capital. Treat different components of the homeless differently as their needs are different. Training our workforce to be qualified for better pay jobs. Help young families with childe care. Look closer and deeper into constituting living wage ordanance or similar measures.
What Do We Learn …..What Can Be Done? Continued… Increase production of affordable housing: – Farm workers Housing – Reconsidering county housing restriction in favor of affordable housing (this involves some direct intervention in the housing production market). – Provide greater number of rental housing and look closer into the existing market structure of residential housing companies. – Increase shelter capacity in the county Provide support for training and creating greater level of skills that market needs and pay more for. Join the debate and create a movement to put greater emphasis on economic policies to eradicate poverty and homelessness.
Thank You Glad to Answer Any Questions You May Have.