Treasure House of Hope is a Bridge from Homeless to Hopeful
According to Metro Denver Homeless Initiative 2015 Point-In-Time Annual Assessment of Homelessness Key Findings: On Monday, January 26, 2015 there were 6,130 homeless men, women and children counted in the seven county Metro Denver area. This number only includes people who filled out a survey and their family members, and we know this to be an undercount.
On the Street
Of all homeless people, 13.1 percent or 805 people were unsheltered (living on the street, under a bridge, in an abandoned or public building, in a car, camping, etc.) on the night of January 26, 2015.
Nearly one quarter (24.5%) of all homeless persons were considered newly homeless. People are considered newly homeless if they have been homeless for less than one year and this is their first episode of homelessness. Of the newly homeless, over half (52.6%) or 789 people were in homelessness with their children and an additional 67 (4.5%) were unaccompanied youth.
Homeless persons are more likely to be living in households with children: 47.8 percent with children versus 43 percent without children.
750 individuals met HUD’s definition of chronically homeless in January 2015. Three-quarters (73.3%) of the chronically homeless, or 541 persons, are male, 192 (26.0 %) are female and five people identify as transgender. The great majority of chronically homeless respondents are single (623 persons or 83.1%)www.mdhi.org
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, without at least one parent employed full time, children are likely to fall into poverty. Many families piece together part time employment to make ends meet. Furthermore, without a good education and relevant job skills, it’s difficult for parents to earn a living wage to support their families in Denver. retrieved: 2013 Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being. www.aecf.org. Although in 2012, the average unemployment rate in Denver dropped from 8.5% to 8%, a year earlier 35% children lived in families where no parent had a full time year-round job.
As it relates to income, it cost approximately $61, 980 to meet the basic needs of a family of four in Denver, CO (2 adults, and infant and a preschooler) based on data reported by Colorado Center on Law and Policy (2011). In 2011, the median household income for Denver was $47, 584, lower that the state median income of $55, 530. Basic needs include minimum housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare, miscellaneous expenses and taxes. The median household income is significantly below what is required for self-sufficiency for a family. In other words, the cost to meet basic needs for a family in Denver is approximately 2.7 times the federal poverty level. US Department of Health and Human 2013 Poverty Guidelines. Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 16, January 24, 5182-5183.Services (2013).
Negative Effects on Families with Children
All children need strong families and supportive communities to realize their full potential. According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2012), the state of America’s children living at or near poverty are at great risk for physical, emotional, and cognitive health issues with long-term implications for educational achievement “health & social development”. More than a quarter of Denver’s children or 34,000 are still living in poverty. http://datacenter.kidscount.org/.
Lack of Affordable Child Care
There are a limited number of community organizations with funding available to assist with providing childcare for homeless families with children. “Double-Up” housing , a term meaning homeless children in Denver that share housing with other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasons increased significantly from 756 families in 2010-2011 to 1, 091 families in 2011-2012 according to Denver’s Great Kids 2011-2012 PIR Report Office of Head Start.
Lack of Education
It is a fact that there are many other social ills which contribute to the negative effects homelessness have on families, far too many to mention! One example: a parent’s lack of education attainment will continuously be a barrier to earning a decent income, period. Research shows that education attainment is the most important social characteristic for predicting earnings. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, on average, workers with a high school diploma earned almost $9000 more a year than those without one. In Denver, 14.2 percent of adults do not have a high school diploma.
Research also shows that families with children who are in high crime neighborhoods and are exposed to violence have the potential to suffer lasting physical, mental and emotional harm. They are also at risk for juvenile delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with child welfare systems. US Department of Justice. (2009, October). The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence indicates most of society’s children are exposed to violence in their daily lives.
Denver is the most populated city in the State of Colorado. With an estimated population of 598,707, Denver is the 24th most populated city in the United States. Its economy is primarily influenced by its geographical position. Being large in area, Denver has become the storage and transportation center for this part of the country. However, crime rates in the city are soaring high, with drug addiction in Denver, CO assuming greater proportions. Instances of drug abuse in Denver, Colorado, have continued to soar at a time when these are showing a declining trend in other U.S. cities. Denver suffers from cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana abuse, and this poses severe threats to the city.