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Homeless Shelter Coming to Ashburn - Meeting Oct.23

Discussion in 'Broadlands Community Issues' started by CdnJess, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. dbundy

    dbundy New Member

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    Members of my family and I have been privileged to find volunteer opportunities with Good Shepherd Alliance for many years. We have volunteered in the thrift store, we have visited the shelters, and have the highest respect for this organization, their goals and mission.
     
  2. Robert.Hamilton

    Robert.Hamilton New Member

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    Mr. Hamilton,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions.

    I do take issue with some of the items you've mentioned for example, you mention "we were originally told this was a Thrift Shop and Administrative office".

    I am not questioning whether this was what you heard, but I have known about the Center for Hope since June. I first heard about it from an Ashburn Farm neighbor and then I read about it in the Loudoun Times Mirror, http://www.loudountimes.com/news/200...19/CenterHope/

    Both sources mention(ed) the facility was going to be admin offices, thrift shop AND drop in facilities. Here is a pertinent quote from the June 19th news article. The Center for Hope will include:

    Counseling services, a kids' room, chapel, conference room and enlarged day center will also be housed in the Center of Hope. The day center is where homeless individuals can come to shower, do laundry, use the Internet, check their mail, prepare meals, use the phone and store belongings, Werner said.

    She said that the current day center in Leesburg includes these things, but on a much smaller scale. The new facility will include four bathrooms, allowing up to four people to shower..."
    Several other local papers including the Connection also announced the intentions of the Center for Hope.

    I think it is inaccurate to portray this as a surprise.

    Thanks for your reply; a public discussion such as this is exactly what we need.

    If it were not a surprise we would not be we would not be having this discussion today we would have had it in June. Unfortunately most people were unaware of the plan to bus homeless people into Ashburn until now hence we are talking about it today.

    When I first heard about the Center of Hope I had many of your stated concerns and began researching the GSA and it's planned facility. I talked directly to the Director of the GSA, one of their board members, a County Supervisor, and church members.

    A few things I found out, it's true bus service will be provided to the Center, but it is not a GSA bus. It is the normal local Loudoun Bus service. Vouchers are provided by the GSA to those who do need them to visit the Center. A significant number of those in need actually drive themselves to the Center.


    · There is currently no bus stop there it will be added to the route to support the Shelter.




    If found this surprising.

    The image of a homeless, shopping cart pushing, steam grate dweller is an incorrect stereotype for the types of Loudoun Co citizens who use the Center.

    We have crime all over Ashburn. How many shootings have there been in Ashburn alone within the last year? A lot. I am not convinced that the GSA day center open from 9 - 5 is going to significantly add to that risk.


    Because there is a small amount of crime now should we potentially add more?



    The criminal incidents you site are things I do not know about, and certain need to be addressed by GSA.

    Can the GSA guaranty no criminal assaults will occur against the children of the 7 schools within a 2-mile radius of the proposed site? This is our greatest concern. We can provide support for the homeless in a business park near Redskins Park and the post office or some other non-residential area and keep our children considerably safer.

    THIS IS NOT AN EITHER OR SITUATION

    Every employee and person in need must pass a background check. Ms. Werner (Exec Director) tells me even if someone wants to use the phone, they must wait until after their background check is completed. It's reasonable to voice a concern about those visiting the Center and get assurances from GSA that they are doing the background checks and other measures to assure that security is met.


    Yet violent attacks still occurred at other GSA facilities.


    Also in my research I have found out that the building is 7,000 square feet. 4,000 of which serves as the Thrift Shop. The Shop produces over $10,000 a month towards covering operating expenses. 2,000 square feet is used for the walk-in center. This is the area that houses the computers, showers, kitchen, laundry, phones, etc. 1,000 square feet is for administrative offices and counselor offices.


    Are the children in Ashburn more safe because of the dimensions you site?

    Every person in need that is accepted into the program must visit a counselor once a week. This session is used for many things to include, resume reviews, job hunting advice, counseling on other service needs like day-care, medical, etc. This is what most of the day traffic will consist of, visits to the counselors.

    All these services could be provided in a location that is not so close to schools and residential areas.


    I think it is very healthy for our community to continue the dialog about the GSA. GSA's 23 year history of serving Loudoun deserves the benefit of the doubt. It's also important to address citizen concerns such as yours. I hope for an open mind from all involved and that issues are stated and accurate answers or solutions are provided. Then each of us can make up our own minds on what is good for the neighborhood, neighbors in need, and the GSA.

    Thank you for your response. Could you now tell me how this particular location of a GSA shelter makes our children safe?
     
  3. Robert.Hamilton

    Robert.Hamilton New Member

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    It is true some homeless people are good people who need our help, which is why we as a community should provide support for the homeless.

    Please do not be naive, some homeless people are mentally ill, some are severe drug addicts, and others are flat out criminal. The citizens of Loudoun county are compassionate people so we WILL support them. We do not need to place our children at unnecessary risk to accomplish this.

    Not all homeless people need to be bad people to make the Ashburn location a bad location, just 1. If 1 child is harmed, by 1 homeless person bussed into Ashburn we have failed as a community because it would have been preventable.
     
  4. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    Mr. Hamilton,

    Again, I respect your opinion.

    My comment would be that there are drug addicts, mentally ill, and flat out criminals that live right in our neighborhoods and they aren't homeless. For me I do not see a difference in folks that are homeless and folks that may live right down the street from us.

    I would venture to say the Greenway brings more criminal activity to our neighborhoods than the Center for Hope will. I'd say there's a greater chance of crime happening in our neighborhoods, that will have nothing to do with the Center for Hope.

    In fact, a case could be made that potential criminal activity will be averted because of the efforts of the Center of Hope. They have an incredible record of getting folks back on their feet and working. I'd think that individuals the Center of Hope assist have a greater chance of staying out of trouble when they have a job than if they continued to be homeless.

    I think what is missing here is an understanding of the Center of Hope's mission. They aren't just feeding and cleaning folks. They are counseling them and providing resources for them to get jobs and become productive citizens again.

    One other clarification the Center of Hope is not only for men, it's also for women, and the support of their children and families.

    With that said, I do want to make sure GSA is providing for background checks and facility security. I am confident they are, and I do want to be assured that these efforts will continue into the future.

    Thank you for this rational conversation. I think it helps to get the issues out in the open and discussed.


     
  5. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    I am not sure you would find any location in Loudoun that wasn't close to a significant number of schools. If not now, certainly in the future.
     
  6. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    Mr. Hamilton,

    I'll try and answer your last question posted at 1:41AM it's a good one (no one can accuse of us of not putting time into this issue to make sure the situation is thoroughly discussed. "good morning")

    Will this particular location make our children any safer?

    I'd guess this is what it all comes down to for many of our neighbors, including me. The phrasing of our question makes the assumption that the Center for Hope is unsafe. I am not sure that is correct. However, I will agree vigilance is in order.

    I'd take the position that this site is safe because of the care and security GSA has developed. Procedures they have developed and adopted over twenty years of dealing with safety when dealing with the homeless.

    I've mentioned the background checks which by the way have been coordinated and approved by the police department. I also understand from Ms. Werner that daily informational dialog happens between the Sheriff's office and their staff. So that's a good thing.

    The facility is only open from 9 to 5. This is not an overnight shelter. Many of the problems brought up in this discussion happen(ed) at overnight shelters. I also think the site has an added benefit of being located in downtown Ashburn directly adjacent to the firehouse. A firehouse that is manned and active 24 hours a day. That's active eyes on the immediate vicinity. It's not like the Center is out in the middle of no where.

    I do understand there is a problem with the wooden security fence between downtown Ashburn (behind the 7-11 shopping center) and the homes on the other side. From what I understand that has been a persistent problem. I certainly think this will need to be fixed one way or the other. With an adequate fence, the location is really in a retail area not a residential area.

    As a side note, if you haven't seen the building lately it is a thousand times better than the junky roofing company that was located there previously.

    You mentioned that a bus stop will be brought into downtown to serve this center. I would think requests could be made to have one of those stops be right in the parking lot of the Center. That would not only be convenient but also waylay any fears that folks would have of walking a distance to get to transportation. I am not sure how many will actually be riding the bus, as I mentioned a significant number of them have cars and drive to and from their counseling sessions.

    That's just a few thoughts on safety, there maybe more and it's certainly a topic to keep on the table for discussion.

    At the end of the day our children are exposed to numerous dangers from all kids of things. I worry about my kids all the time. Every-time they leave the house, or drive a car, step onto a football field, or even while in school. I am not sure as parents we'll ever feel that our kids are completely safe. We do what we can to balance the risks, teaching them the ways of the world, and how to watch out for each other. That and prayers seem like good protection to me.

    Again, I realize we can have differences of opinions on this, I am not trying to change your mind, just provide a perspective from a fellow neighbor.
     
  7. ashburnmom1

    ashburnmom1 New Member

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    To respond to this comment: "My comment would be that there are drug addicts, mentally ill, and flat out criminals that live right in our neighborhoods and they aren't homeless. For me I do not see a difference in folks that are homeless and folks that may live right down the street from us."

    I will explain the difference. 1) There are innumerable study and research that show a strong relationship, correlation, if not causality, between those who become victims of homelessness and those who also become victims of substance abuse, have significant criminal records, and experience major mental illness. 2) Even those who live in house next door to us who experience those personal tragedies such as substance abuse, major mental illness, and have significant criminal records are easier to monitor and control than the one who do not have a fixed address. 3) Someone who is in the multiplicatively misfortunate position of have a major mental illness (say, schizophrenia), does not have medical insurance, money to pay out of pocket, nor a home in which to live, is not only in a severely dangerous position for him/herself but to those he/she encounters daily. If others had a mental illness which require anti-psychotics, etc., have no medical insurance, but have a fixed address and money to pay for treatment, the danger of the situation decreases significantly.

    Also, those who have severe financial problems have a higher MO to commit crimes of theft, burglary, robbery, etc. Most people who break into homes and steal (sometimes having to commit acts of violence in the midst of property crime b/c there are people at home they did not plan for) usually are not in a stable financial position, would you agree? There are those instances in which individuals who commit property crimes are in a family who is financially stable, but this is not the case supported by crime data and data on homeless individuals or those living in poverty.

    All of these horrific personal tragedies that individuals experience (making bad financial decisions, making bad decisions about using drugs, experiencing several mental illness) are so terrible. But those who experience them and are members of a community have a personally vested interest in not sinking deeper. Joe Neighbor who becomes an heroin addict will feel extreme peer and family pressure to go to a rehab program, likely Joe N. with have a job at which he must function, thus feel pressure, if not a mandate from his work to receive help, and also, Joe N. must pay a mortgage, rent, or some sort of housing payment and thus, feels under time pressure to recover from this drug problem.

    I could walk you through this same scenario for an individual suffering from a severe mental illness or who has a criminal background of anything. He/she will have a huge motivation not to re-offend and to get treatment for his or her mental illness.

    I don't know why you don't see the "difference" between someone who is an invested member of a community with a drug addiction, criminal background, or severe mental illness--but I do.
     
  8. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Very well said. It only takes one personal tragedy to cause homelessness. Unfortunately, no one is exempt.
     
  9. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    ashburnmom1,

    I don't doubt some of the sources you cite. There is a huge difference between a homeless shelter and the Center for Hope. The Center for Hope is a day facility and does not have overnight facilities or personnel.

    I do not think you can equate some of the homeless shelter studies being looked at and apply the same data onto day facilities. It's apples and oranges.

    The best data available is the 23 year history of the GSA. They are serving the population we are talking about and they are doing it in our County. When analyzing that data it's important to also look at the incredible success rate they have of putting people back on their feet.
     
  10. redon1

    redon1 aka Aphioni

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    and where do the homeless people go after the day center closes?
     
  11. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Wouldn't you normally put such facilities WHERE the people are? Obviously this current location isn't 'in the middle' of this need area, hence the need to bus people in. So if you are busing - isn't it reasonable that any place equally reachable by bus would be suitable in this regard?

    This was the perplexing thing to me - moving away from a walking area with more transport options to an area with little to none. Presumably (I'm speculating) that there would be more working opportunities in a higher density area like Leesburg as well. So why move away from Leesburg? If you must due to cost or space - why move into a predominately residential area?

    And for all these talks about it being a 9-5 facility - the GSA does not control these people. How can you garuntee that those bussed in will take the bus back out? How can you garuntee that people will not make their own way here and wait for the facility to open. Or worse, base themselves out of this area. It doesn't seem unreasonable to speculate that people will move to where the services are offered. It gives new reasons that did not exist before for homeless to gravitate here.

    The 9-5 argument doesn't hold any water to me as long as the GSA isn't responsible to move people BACK OUT after they have used their facility. Which seems expensive.

    Anyone have the background why GSA is leaving leesburg?
     
  12. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    I have been reading this thread, other blogs, and numerous emails that have been forwarded to me. From all this, I have only developed one opinion. Almost all comments are based on assumptions and have not been based on any known facts.
    I would encourage all who are concerned to attend the Nov 1 meeting to learn some facts about this facility.
    I have a number of questions I would like answered and will reserve my opinion until I get some answers to them.
     
  13. Robert.Hamilton

    Robert.Hamilton New Member

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    Mr. Hamilton,

    Again, I respect your opinion.

    My comment would be that there are drug addicts, mentally ill, and flat out criminals that live right in our neighborhoods and they aren't homeless. For me I do not see a difference in folks that are homeless and folks that may live right down the street from us.

    I also appreciate your input although I do wish we had this dialog before the GSA came to Ashburn.

    A very high % of homeless people has mental health problems, substance abuse problems, or violent criminal backgrounds compared to Ashburn’s average population.

    But even if those percentages were the same it still would not make it a good idea to bus more criminally, drug addicted, mentally unstable within about a 2-mile radius of 7 schools. We have the option of moving the shelter to a location that does not add risk to our children.



    I would venture to say the Greenway brings more criminal activity to our neighborhoods than the Center for Hope will. I'd say there's a greater chance of crime happening in our neighborhoods, that will have nothing to do with the Center for Hope.

    Your characterization of Ashburn as some crime riddle urban nightmare is laughable. Certainly some crimes occur but criminal activity as a percentage of the population is tiny compared to the criminal activity of the homeless population.

    In fact, a case could be made that potential criminal activity will be averted because of the efforts of the Center of Hope. They have an incredible record of getting folks back on their feet and working. I'd think that individuals the Center of Hope assist have a greater chance of staying out of trouble when they have a job than if they continued to be homeless.


    This is a baseless assertion. There are no homeless shelters where the crime rate in the immediate vicinity decreases. As I stated earlier 36.9% of men are turned away from other GSA facilities in Loudoun County. These “Rule Violations” are often criminal violations. If the GSA is incapable of dealing with these individuals how do you expect our children to?

    I do not doubt the GSA does good work. My point is they can do the job from a location that does not place our children at increased risk.

    I think what is missing here is an understanding of the Center of Hope's mission. They aren't just feeding and cleaning folks. They are counseling them and providing resources for them to get jobs and become productive citizens again.

    One other clarification the Center of Hope is not only for men, it's also for women, and the support of their children and families.


    I’m not missing anything here. The GSA does noble work that should be done without placing our children at additional risk.

    What you seem unwilling to admit is that there are risks associated with this work that we do not need to burden our children with, risks that can be minimized by moving the shelter away from school zones and residential areas.


    With that said, I do want to make sure GSA is providing for background checks and facility security. I am confident they are, and I do want to be assured that these efforts will continue into the future.

    When a man shows up at the GSA shelter whacked out on crystalmeth and the GSA turns him away how will a background check protect the children who will be walking home from school at the time? The GSA turns away 36.9% of the men who use the other Loudoun Facilities because they cannot deal with them. That statistic can be verified on Page 55 in the special needs assessment section of the Loudoun County Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan.

    http://inetdocs.loudoun.gov/dss/docs/housing_/consolidatedpla/consolidatedpla.pdf



    You and I have had a lot of dialog here but you have not addressed why the shelter must be placed so close to so many schools and homes.

    We can provide service for the homeless without placing our children at additional risks.

    Thanks again this type of dialog helps make Loudoun the best county in Virgina!
     
  14. Villager

    Villager Ashburn Village Resident

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    This article details a little bit of what GSA has to say about the location issue, at least in regard to their Lucketts shelter location. Another article outlines the struggle to find a location with a willing landlord.

    http://www.religionandsocialpolicy.org/news/article.cfm?id=5873

    http://www.religionandsocialpolicy.org/news/article.cfm?id=6961

    However, each of the above articles are about warming centers or overnight shelters, not day centers.

    This article from 2003 discusses day center use. Here is an article about experience of a day center in Wyoming that sounds similar to the one planned for Ashburn.
     
  15. Robert.Hamilton

    Robert.Hamilton New Member

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    I am not sure you would find any location in Loudoun that wasn't close to a significant number of schools. If not now, certainly in the future.

    This is simply false. Any objective look at a map disproves this.
     
  16. Villager

    Villager Ashburn Village Resident

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    The poor among us. With one in 12 Hoosiers struggling to get by, we all have a stake in helping to lift them out of poverty.

    Publisher: Indianapolis Star
    By: Gary Moore
    First published: September 17, 2006


    The poor among us. With one in 12 Hoosiers struggling to get by, we all have a stake in helping to lift them out of poverty.
    Publisher: Indianapolis Star
    By: Gary Moore


    More than three-quarters of a million Hoosiers live in poverty, a third of them children. The U.S. Census Bureau in late August reported Indiana's 2005 poverty rate at 12.2 percent, the third consecutive annual increase. And more than half of female-headed households with children under 5 live below the poverty level.

    Off the streets: The homeless sit in the Horizon House dayroom waiting to meet with medical professionals or case managers or sign up for job training. The center also is a place to shower and do laundry.


    Indiana's poor have little confidence in the American Dream -- not when they struggle each day to put food on the table and to keep a roof over their heads and their children in school.


    We all have a stake in lowering in helping them escape poverty. We pay in higher insurance premiums when too many can't afford health care, in increased taxes to support overburdened social services, in the threat to public safety as crime rates rise, in a sluggish economy, and in an education system that fails too many students.


    These underlying symptoms of poverty are reflected in a report due out Tuesday, "Still on Shaky Ground 2006," from the Women's Fund of Central Indiana, a philanthropic organization that creates opportunities for women and girls in Central Indiana. It highlights problems with insufficient income, care giving, domestic violence and health issues. And on Page 2 of this section, the United Way of Central Indiana's Ellen Annala challenges all of us to make possible long-term change for people at risk of poverty by supporting the United Way's annual fund drive.


    Horizon House's Carter Wolf, the Indiana Coalition for Human Services' Patti O'Callaghan, and Katharine Byers, who heads Indiana University-Bloomington's social work program, examine the causes and effects of poverty in Indiana and offer suggestions on how to help our friends and neighbors who struggle each day to get by.


    Working hard, but staying poor
    By Katharine V. Byers



    We hear that poverty in Indiana affects more than 740,000 men, women and children, and we are stunned. We had been told that the economy is improving, but evidentially not for some citizens in our state. If the number of poor is increasing, that means that some families who were not poor last year are now poor. What could have happened to them?


    Many of us think about poverty as something that happens to other people, certainly not us. We point to the ways "those people" have a hand in creating the conditions that lead them into poverty. We feel they bear considerable responsibility for changing their own circumstances: They need to stop spending their money on frivolous things. They need to stop drinking or using drugs. They need to get back in school or learn a trade. They need to do all manner of things to "better themselves."


    While the research tells us that changes in individual behavior can lead to increases in income, the causes of poverty go beyond deficits or shortcomings in individuals. There are deficits and shortcomings in our communities and state that contribute to poverty as well.


    Consequently, individuals can work very hard and still be poor.
    What has happened recently that might explain some of the increase poverty in Indiana? Though our poverty rate of 12.2 percent is slightly below the national average of 12.6 percent, our rate has increased in the last three years while the national rate has remained unchanged. If this trend continues, we can expect Indiana's poverty rate in the future to be higher than the national rate. We can look at jobs, wages, and education as community factors increasing the chances of poverty.
    Better-paying manufacturing jobs have left the state, and the newly created jobs tend to be in the lower-paying service industries. During the 2000-02 economic slowdown, Indiana lost 122,000 jobs; we are still 46,000 jobs below our pre-slowdown job level.


    While much of the rest of the country has seen wage gains recently, Indiana's wages have remained stagnant. In addition, those at the bottom of the wage scale actually suffered wage losses in 2004. According to the 2005 Status Report on Working Families from the Indiana Coalition on Housing and Homeless Issues, 22 percent of Indiana workers earned wages below the poverty level. Some middle-income wage earners are only one layoff or medical emergency away from poverty themselves.


    A recent report estimating that 20,000 Indiana high school students drop out every year does not bode well for their or our state's future. The link between income and education is very strong. To quote from the 2005 Status of Working Families Report, "Indiana lacks high-wage jobs due to the increasing dominance of service-sector industries in its economy and also because of the relatively low educational attainment of its adult workforce."


    Recent increases in poverty rates in Indiana should concern all of us. We are not surprised that nonprofit, public and faith-based agencies providing food, clothing, shelter and other necessities are seeing increases in caseloads and needs. What may be surprising to some is the connection between poverty and increased needs for mental health services due to higher rates of stress, depression, family disruption and family violence. When both physical and mental health needs are not met, long-term chronic illnesses can result, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Inability to get early treatment results in more expensive care later in the disease process.


    Payment for these services for the uninsured poor is passed on to the rest of us in higher hospital bills, co-pays and insurance premiums. What happens to poor people does impact the rest of us.
    In addition to the direct services for individuals and families in poverty, we must address some of the root causes of poverty in our state if we are to create a vibrant economy that addresses the needs of all our citizens.


    Byers is associate professor of social work and director of the bachelor's degree social work program at Indiana University-Bloomington.

    Beyond basics to the big picture
    By Patti O'Callaghan



    The waiting room at Lafayette Urban Ministry provides a daily glimpse of the people behind the poverty numbers. "David" has worked full-time as a sales representative in a local electronics store for three years. He's especially knowledgeable when it comes to TVs, DVDs, CD players, and computers. And while he's a model employee, his $7.86-per-hour wage is barely enough to make ends meet.


    His wife cares for their five children and does her best to keep the family budget balanced. But an unexpected car repair, a child's doctor visit or an unusually high utility bill is all it takes to throw this family into a financial emergency. This time they are facing eviction because they have fallen behind on their rent.


    And there are others, such as the asthmatic senior who lives in a trailer. The summer heat forced her to use the air conditioner more than usual and she doesn't have the money for her electric bill.


    A grandmother is caring for two special-needs grandchildren. She can't go to work until the children are approved for state-supported placement and professional services. They need food and shelter assistance until then.
    A guest in our homeless shelter lost his job and apartment when suffering from poor health. He's been hired at a new job and the only thing standing between him and a fresh start in life is a pair of steel-toe work boots. But he can't pay for the boots.


    The number of people struggling to make ends meet is growing, as evidenced by the data recently released from the census bureau. Two surveys and many numbers may make it confusing to understand the situation. But just imagine the RCA Dome filled to capacity more than 12 times -- that's the number of individuals in Indiana living in poverty.
    Every day at Lafayette Urban Ministry (and at social service agencies all over Indiana) we help people with the basics, the immediate needs. And that's necessary. But we also have to think of the big picture: Why do so many people need help?


    There are policy changes that can improve the economic security of Hoosiers who are struggling. We can help workers earn a decent wage by increasing the minimum wage. We can help them get to work by supporting state child and dependent care tax credits. We can make work pay by increasing the state earned income tax credit; the federal EITC has been the most effective program in lifting people out of poverty.


    We can help more people pay their utility bills by permanently removing the state sales tax on federal dollars that come to Indiana for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. We can help families with students by providing free textbooks -- and help more students learn by giving them free breakfast and enrolling their families in the food stamp program.


    We can help people have an affordable place to live by funding the Indiana Housing Trust Fund. We can help them keep their homes by ending predatory lending. We can provide job training and education for improved employment opportunities.


    So the challenge is set before us.


    A folk parable tells the story of people trying frantically to rescue babies that are floating down a river's torrents until one of the group finally decides to go upstream to stop whoever is throwing the babies in. We have to pull the babies out of the river before they drown. We must provide direct services to those in need. Donate to your local food pantry or helping agency.


    But we must also go upstream to promote systemic change to prevent the need for services in the first place. Contact your legislators and demand action.


    O'Callaghan is president of the Indiana Coalition for Human Services and director of social justice at Lafayette Urban Ministry.

    The realities of living in poverty
    By Carter Wolf



    The economy is stronger and a good many of us are fortunate to have jobs that pay at or above the median income for our community. However, many of our neighbors are working one or two minimum-wage jobs or, worse yet, are not employed. They live right here but are in a separate world that does not allow them to grasp the American Dream while they are holding on for dear life. The world they live in is "poverty."


    As recently released U.S. Census Bureau statistics show, many of our Central Indiana neighbors live at some level of poverty, homelessness or one paycheck away from either. Without the ability to earn a decent livelihood, they face issues every day that are daunting and sometimes insurmountable.


    Earl Shorris writes about the "surround of force" that confronts people of poverty. Issues that many of us in the middle class experience episodically during our lives happen with compounded frequency for the poor. These include unemployment, rent problems, domestic violence, death or illness of the primary provider, poor health, drug dealers and street crime, lack of transportation or child care, predatory lenders, gang activity and teen pregnancy. An increased number of youth in poverty drop out of school, fall into other bad life choices and cycle through jails, prison and unemployment, only to learn later in life that their options for improvement are slim to none.

    A common denominator is the loss of hope that the American Dream will ever be open to them.


    Loss of hope and dignity is a very real characteristic of those coming through the Horizon House door, a day center for the homeless; severe poverty is the rule. Many have just fallen on bad times; others are trying to correct mistakes in their past. Their history becomes a barrier in this journey and often closes the very doors they need to open to start over. They also find themselves ill-prepared to earn a living wage to sustain them. The "working poor" have become the "working homeless." We work to provide the resources and self-empowerment to not only end their homelessness but break the cycle.


    When we share success stories at Horizon House, we are talking about individuals who, with many people providing support services, overcame huge obstacles to reach independence.


    When Hurricane Katrina exposed the poverty of New Orleans, everyone, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency director, acted surprised, as if these people appeared out of nowhere. The fact is that all our communities have become more economically segregated in the last few decades, thus increasing the invisibility of those in poverty.


    Often these individuals use a disproportionate amount of community resources, from emergency rooms to the criminal justice system. Last year a story was circulated among homeless providers about a homeless man who died in a New York hospital who became know as "Million-Dollar Murray." This man was a severe alcoholic who consumed a million dollars of resources when costs were calculated by police, courts and hospitals. Very little money was available to service providers that could have kept him housed and out of the emergency room and jail.


    By almost any indicator, things are getting better for the middle class and certainly for the wealthy, but not for the poor. The poverty rate in greater Indianapolis has increased by five percentage points in the last five years (10 points for children). At the same time the rate for those without health insurance increased by 5.5 points. Some of this comes from a 14 percent loss in manufacturing jobs -- jobs that often benefit those with lower education levels. A single adult in Indianapolis who works full time must make at least $8.20 to meet his or her very basic needs.


    Welfare reform has been successful in moving many people from welfare to work, but it has not provided adequate support for those who are doing what society asks. The consequence is working mothers and responsible fathers without decent housing, child care, insurance and transportation. Federal dollars for job training, Medicaid and addiction programs have gone down as well. The federal resources that organizations like Horizon House have used to fill these gaps and provide support services are still eroding. Aside from disaster relief, overall private giving to the homeless has steadily gone down as a percentage of the philanthropic dollar.


    The reductions in support dollars directed to the poor are directly related to their invisibility and lack of political clout. The net effect is that society bears the cost of public services, lost economic productivity and human resources. The poor don't need handouts; they need opportunities. Investing in the resources to provide opportunities is investing in our community. The United Way's new tag line, "Addressing today's needs, reducing tomorrows," explains succinctly why we need to give to them and poverty-focused organizations.


    David Hilfiker, the noted physician and writer who serves the poor in our nation's capital, said, "The everyday pain of the poorest members of our society does tangibly affect us all, whether we know it or not. A basic sociological truth is that if the divisions among us continue to deepen, and the neglect that comes from 'invisibility' continues to multiply, our sense of democracy and equality will not survive. We could become a community we do not recognize."


    Wolf is executive director of Horizon House, a day center for the homeless in Indianapolis.
     
  17. Robert.Hamilton

    Robert.Hamilton New Member

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    This article from 2003 discusses day center use. Here is an article about experience of a day center in Wyoming that sounds similar to the one planned for Ashburn.

    And here is an article from a GSA day center located in Loudoun County
    “A homeless man has been charged with assaulting a homeless woman one evening inside the Leesburg headquarters of the Good Shepherd Alliance, raising questions about how they got into the facility after working hours.
    Good Shepherd, a Christian organization that operates homeless shelters across the county, uses the building on Sycolin Road for its staff operations and to provide services to homeless people during the day. The building usually closes at 5 p.m., Good Shepherd officials said.”






    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/02/AR2007030202099.html?nav=rss_metro/va
     
  18. Homer Simpson

    Homer Simpson New Member

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    So where do they go after 5? Why would they bus back when they can hang out on W&OD until 9am the next day?
     
  19. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    I don't see anything in there that makes Ashburn a better location.

    So why would people be better served by having it in Ashburn?

    So a facility that was NOT a shelter was often letting people stay overnight anyways? How are we sure a 9-5 facility will not ask to allow overnighters when the weather gets cold??

    Wow.. that sure makes ASHBURN a #1 match... :rolleeyes:

    So Lucketts proved difficult because of distance from the need. Now we look to repeat that?

    Hrmm... wonder which woods they would prefer? One near services maybe?

    So you didn't need to be a homeless shelter to allow emergency stays during cold. So its an overnight facility only 'some of the time'

    Which ashburn allows... doesn't seem like a far fetch to ask for emergency overnight stays in their 'day center' in Ashburn now does it?

    No one is debating the needs of this population or their existence - but this location doesn't make sense. Further strengthened by the highlights mentioned above.
     
  20. Lee

    Lee Permanent Vacation

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    Wonderful that you all can say you don't want it here, but what are your alternatives. Don't forget they already broke ground and this is a BY RIGHT DEVELOPMENT, which I have been so critical of and so has Barbara.

    I think Villagers idea of putting it by the large church in the flex industrial area is excellent. These people need jobs and there are plenty of them there. Dalyns little brother has been in much trouble over the years and the hardest thing for him is getting to work so he can stay out of trouble so a place within walking distance of work is excellent as Villager says.

    You all are complaining with your heads chopped off, but have zero workable solutions as Villager has proposed, meanwhile they are building their BY RIGHT BUILDING and nothing you can do about it if they will not work with you all. There will be many many by right problems coming up as this area matures. Barbara and I may disagree on many things but by right is one thing I totally agree with her on.

    Lee j
     

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