Monday, February 16, 2009

Homeless Rates Increasing

Via John & Belle Have A Blog, this article in the WaPo on homeless families has some bad news for Virginia's kids:
A study to be released tomorrow by the Richmond-based research groups Commonwealth Institute and Voices for Virginia's Children concludes that if the national unemployment rate reaches 9 percent by the fall, as many as 218,000 Virginians might drop below the poverty line, including 73,000 children. A similar analysis by the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute estimated that Maryland could see as many as 189,000 people slip below the poverty line.
It's probably the same in your states. I'm just guessing here, but rising numbers of families and kids falling into poverty sounds to me like a scenario for rising numbers of kids showing up in foster care. The bitter cup runneth over.

Please do read the WaPo article - it profiles a family, two parents, two kids, they were making about $60,000/year. Parents both get hit with job cuts and... whoosh. It's all gone.

For nearly a generation, the face of homelessness in America has been that of a man or woman living on the street and panhandling for loose change. But with the foreclosure crisis, stagnant economy and rising unemployment, advocates for the homeless said they are seeing more two-parent families seeking shelter.

Many of the newly homeless are renters whose landlords were foreclosed on, members of families in which a parent lost a job or low-wage workers who were living on the edge even before losing their jobs.

Experts who study homelessness and poverty said the increase in homeless families illustrates how severely the economic crisis is affecting middle- and working-class households and how the worsening economy is pushing more people toward poverty.

I'm struck more and more by the renter's dilemma. There's potential deflation in the housing market on the horizon, so buying right now - even if you can - is a considerably risky business. It might seem safer to stick with renting because it's easier to downsize, if that's what you have to do, and because you don't want to join the ranks of people whose mortgages are for more than the homes are worth now. But even if you rent and even if you keep your job and even if you make your payments, you could come home and find your stuff on the sidewalk if your landlord doesn't pay his bills. There should be some protection for renters whose landlords default, but there isn't.

Anyway, if you came here through some means other than fost/adopt, if there's room in your home and your life for a kid whose parents are good people but caught up in economic craziness, there are most likely going to be lots of kids who could use your help in the coming couple of years. If it's something that you just never thought about doing, now would be a good time to give it a think or two.

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