Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Down and out in lil' Rhody

From the Providence Business News, here in Rhode Island:

R.I. homeless shelters to reach record number of visits in 2010
HOMELESSNESS will reach record levels this year the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless predicted Thursday.

PROVIDENCE – Visits to homeless shelters will reach record levels in 2010, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless predicted Thursday.

The advocacy group expects 4,340 people will visit shelters by the Dec. 31, the highest number since records started 25 years ago. Last year, 3,371 people visited shelters.

Coalition Executive Director Jim Ryczek attributed the increase to the lagging economy and high unemployment. Many Rhode Islanders, he said, struggled to make mortgage payments and eventually lost their houses to foreclosure.

The coalition said 53 percent of the 3,257 people that visited shelters during the first nine months of the year were homeless for the first time. Families constituted 40 percent of people visiting shelters.

Ryczek said the rise in homelessness was not surprising, even as the economy shows some signs of recovery. Ryczek explained that many people that lost their homes during the height of the foreclosure crisis had been getting by on the hospitality of friends and family.

“Often time the homeless family wears out their welcome and has no choice” but to visit a shelter, Ryczek said.

Nevertheless, shelters may not have enough beds to accommodate all visitors this winter; the coalition sees a shortfall of 282 beds. The state's Emergency Shelter Task Force has arranged for 67 emergency beds at four sites around the state, however, the additional beds are not funded for the duration of the winter season.

Bleak as is the picture described in this article, the reality is even worse. When families or individuals learn that a shelter is full, they often don't bother to put their name down on any list. They aren't counted as visitors to the shelter. Some of them do like the family of four I met at a shelter/soup kitchen where I volunteer-- they survive in very tough conditions. The breadwinner for this family had his job reduced to part time. They've worn out their welcome with different people. Now they live in a van. It's a struggle to bathe, and to stay warm enough on cold nights. Yet they see themselves as lucky compared to some who don't even have the minimal shelter provided by their van.

When I read some of these millionaires whining about taxes, etc. I wonder how many days they would survive on the streets, where pissing other people off can be very dangerous. As a nation we must ask ourselves whether we'll continue to treat some people as less than human, or finally start to do the right thing.

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