Homeless Families in Frederick County
Frederick County reports a 17% increase in homeless families in the 2014-15 Point in Time survey. In 2014, volunteers counted 105 people in homeless families, which increased to 130 in 2015.
With these numbers in hand, you can choose any number of programs and services and say, “That is the one.” My answer would be, “Maybe.”
It isn’t easy. This is an affluent area with a median family income over $80,000. Thousands of people working for the minimum wage are stuck. The average two-bedroom apartment rents for over $1,000 a month, not counting utilities.
Keep it simple. Low income people would have to hold three full time jobs a week to pay the bills. This is impossible. Affordable housing is hard to find. It would take all of the available resources of government to catch up to the demand, something that is not going to happen.
People go round and round on this question without getting to the point. Local workers have to have decent jobs to afford the cost of housing. No money, no house, homeless again.
Before you give up hope, let me tell you about an example that teaches responsibility and demands clients work and go to school.
“Mandie” has been involved in Advocates for Homeless Families program for the past two years and is no longer homeless. She has obtained a college degree and has a good job in Frederick County. What made a difference for this young woman?
While going to school, “Mandie” worked full time at a sandwich shop, paid off thousands of dollars in debt, took care of two children and went to school full time. She took the “Hand Up” when it was offered and has built a new life for herself, because she was fed up with being homeless.
I hope that people will believe that accepting personal responsibility for your actions is absolutely necessary to turn your life around. And you have to stop “getting ready to get ready and go for it” if you want to succeed. Advocates provided some financial assistance, but “Mandie” had to work on a budget. She learned to pay her bills and save money.
The lesson of this example is simple. Programs that encourage people to be dependent will perpetuate the problems. Services that offer a plan that solves the problems will always need to make certain clients are willing and able to work hard and stay out of debt.
I have two growing concerns about the nonprofit world. Some agencies have not changed with the times and are still waiting to be discovered. They refuse to accept the fact that donors want to see results. The other concern is that doing “the same old thing over and over” makes the problem worse and builds the frustration among clients.
Suppose you go through a program, do everything they ask you to do, leave the program to find that you do not qualify for a better job and really cannot afford to pay local rents. It reaches a point where some people accept life in a shelter as their way of life. Any potential these people had to make the planet a better place is lost and they become locked in to the system, know where to stay, where to eat and where to hang out.
We need to do better.