Solving Homelessness Together

FAQ

Questions:
Define Homelessness
What exactly does the Homeless Resource Network do?
How many people are homeless in the Chattahoochee Valley?
Why do people lose their homes?
How can I get help if I am experiencing homelessness or about to lose my home?
What do the demographics of homelessness look like?
Aren’t there shelters in the Chattahoochee Valley?
What do you mean when you say “CoC”?
What are the funding sources for Homeless Resource Network?
What are some common health problems related to homelessness?

If you have additional questions you can ask us here.

Answers:

 

 Define Homelessness:

There are four main types of homelessness. See Housing and Urban Development for more info.

  • People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided if they were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation before entering the institution. The only significant change from existing practice is that people will be considered homeless if they are exiting an institution where they resided for up to 90 days (it was previously 30 days), and were homeless immediately prior to entering that institution.
  • People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing. HUD had previously allowed people who were being displaced within 7 days to be considered homeless. The regulation also describes specific documentation requirements for this category.
  • Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth (up to age 24) who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.
  • People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening situations related to violence; have no other residence; and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing. This category is similar to the current practice regarding people who are fleeing domestic violence.

What exactly does the Homeless Resource Network do?

The Homeless Resource Network aims to end homelessness – and we do it in three ways:

  • Direct services to those experiencing homelessness

The Homeless Resource Network has a number of services that you can learn more about

  • Preventing homelessness from starting in the first place

The Homeless Resource Network’s Housing Stabilization Program works directly with individuals and families that are at-risk of homelessness and prevents eviction or foreclosure through rent and utility payments

  • Partnering with service providers and the public

 The Homeless Resource Network leads the way in developing and analyzing strategies to address homelessness in our community 

How many people are experiencing homelessness in the Chattahoochee Valley?

This is one of the most common questions asked, and to give anyone a good answer it requires a proper understanding of homelessness. People experiencing homelessness can be broken down to several different groups; each with their own definitions. Below you will find the different definitions coupled with numbers that give an idea of the local homeless situation.  Based on these definitions it is still difficult to get a count of everyone who meets the different definitions, as many times people experiencing homelessness remain “off the radar”  so to say and never get counted.

  • People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided if they were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation before entering the institution. The only significant change from existing practice is that people will be considered homeless if they are exiting an institution where they resided for up to 90 days (it was previously 30 days), and were homeless immediately prior to entering that institution.

In the last 2011 PIT count in Columbus; 486 individuals reported they were experiencing homelessness. This count aims to get a general picture of people sleeping on the streets and in shelters on a certain day, but it is impossible to expect it to capture everyone that is experiencing homelessness; as it’s hard to find everyone that is sleeping outside.

  • People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing. HUD had previously allowed people who were being displaced within 7 days to be considered homeless. The regulation also describes specific documentation requirements for this category

The Muscogee County Marshall’s office served 13,084 Dispossessory Warrants for eviction in 2011.  Once receiving one of these, the tenant then has seven days to come up with all of  money to cover the current and back rent or file an answer with the court. If they cannot come up with the money the tenant can then be put out on the street.

  • Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth (up to age 24) who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment

The most recent count given by the Muscogee County School District for students experiencing homelessness was 2212. (4-23-12).

  • People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening situations related to violence; have no other residence; and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing. This category is similar to the current practice regarding people who are fleeing domestic violence.

The Crisis Center of Russel County served 873 women and children in 2011 that were fleeing from domestic violence situations.

Why do people lose their homes?

There are many factors that contribute to homelessness, but the biggest indicator that someone will become homeless is that they live in poverty. Poverty compounds all of the other potential factors that could lead to homelessness. For instance if an individual living in the middle class loses his/her job, that individual likely has savings that they would be able to prevent a situation of homelessness. For the individual living in poverty this luxury does not exist. Living paycheck to paycheck, homelessness is a lot closer than people realize.

How can I get help if I am experiencing homelessness or about to lose my home?

If you are an individual who is experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of losing your home, visit Our Programs to see how Homeless Resource Network can help you. Also download our Homeless Resource Guide and visit the Resource page to see what other services are available to assist you in the Chattahoochee Valley area.

What do the demographics of homelessness look like?

Homelessness is not a respecter of persons and does not discriminate. Individuals of all ages, races, and sexes experience homelessness. You can visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness for Federal statistics on homelessness or you can view information on the local demographics of homelessness.

Aren’t there shelters the Chattahoochee Valley?

Some might know that homelessness exists in the Chattahoochee Valley and assume that there are places for these individuals to go because they see shelters. While these shelters provide an invaluable resource for our community, these options do not always fit for the situations that people face.

To make this point let us examine a few real-life scenarios:

    • You are a single mother that has a male child over the age of 13. The male child cannot stay in a woman’s shelter because of his potential threat, and the mother can not stay at the local men’s shelter.
    • You are a diabetic and are unable to get the proper medical diet or insulin injections due to shelter policies.
    • You are a husband and father of 3. Your family has only one option in the Chattahoochee Valley, but you have a criminal record. Your option is to separate your family or live on the streets or your car.
As you can see homelessness does not fit into the neat box that many of us put it in. Solutions and safety nets designed for people experiencing homelessness do not always fit the situations that individuals face.

Another problem that our community faces is the sheer number of individuals facing homelessness. In the 2011 PIT count, 486 individuals were experiencing homelessness, and there were only 306 beds available for those individuals in our community. This means that a lot of those individuals found themselves on the streets or other places that are not meant for human habitation.

What do you mean when you say “CoC”?

The CoC stands for the Continuum of Care and is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for families and individuals facing homelessness.

What are the funding sources for Homeless Resource Network?

Homeless Resource Network receives support through many funding sources. Monetary donations and other in-kind donations from various churches and individuals supplement and expand the ability of the organization. The primary funders for Homeless Resource Network are The Department of Community Affairs, the City of Columbus, and United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.

What are some common health problems related to homelessness?

Poor health can be a major contributing factor to homelessness, and experiencing homelessness often times leads to poor health. Limited heath care makes it worse. Experiencing homelessness not only causes health problems, but also causes existing illnesses to worsen, and seriously complicates getting proper treatment and care. People without housing are generally sicker than people housed and are also three to four times more likely to die prematurely because of restricted access to health care. People experiencing homelessness have high rates of hypertension, asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS to name a few. Other common health problems include mental health, substance abuse, bronchitis, pneumonia, and wound and skin infections.  Conditions that need regular treatment such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension, addictive disorders and mental disorders are very hard to treat and control for people without adequate housing.  Poor nutrition is also a health problem for most people experiencing homelessness. (The absence of adequate housing  to prepare and store food contribute to this.)  This creates a situation where most people have to resort to buying junk food at fast food restaurants with the little money they do have.    Lice, scabies and bed bugs are sometimes an epidemic at the shelters, and inadequate access to bathing and washing facilities can create even more health issues.