Posts Tagged ‘singleparenting’

The Omaha Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless said Tuesday that it’s been awarded $1.15 million for new permanent supportive housing programs. The agency says the some of that money will help provide 60 additional beds for the homeless. That’s on top of a previously announced $1.3 million renewal project award. Omaha mayor Jim Suttle said the award is a major stride for Omaha’s vision to end homelessness.

At the same time Sen. Ben Nelson said that he wants a complete audit of the Omaha Housing Authority’s finances to answer questions about how the agency handled more than $5 million of its federal funding.

OHA’s finances have been a problem in recent months. Earlier this year the agency had trouble paying its bills, leading the OHA board to pass a package of spending cuts and layoffs in March. OHA also received an “F” in financial management on a recent report card from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

OHA is required to repay $1.1 million in federal Section 8 voucher funds that were improperly used for the agency’s operations last year, Nelson and OHA board members said. In addition, over the years, OHA incorrectly used $1.5 million from another fund and loaned $2.5 million in public housing funds to its nonprofit development affiliate, Housing in Omaha.

Omaha is not alone in these problems of mismanagement of HUD funds. Many agencies in cities across the nation are being audited because of mismanagement of HUD funds.
http://www.hudoig.gov/recovery/ARRAaudits.php

The problems include financial mismanagement, fraud, and failure to comply with red tape. These problems were found in a broad array of programs. A Cato essay on HUD scandals explains why the department is particularly susceptible to such problems:
A root cause of HUD scandals is that the department has a large number of costly subsidy programs, and each involves a tangled web of stakeholders. Many HUD programs divide responsibilities between federal, state, and local policymakers, and they involve private interests such as developers and financial companies. The multiplicity of interests and the complexity of the programs create opportunities for people in the public and private sectors to take personal advantage of these programs.”

http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/hud-auditor-finds-problems

I can’t help but wonder if this has anything to do with so many homeless families that have been denied Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (H.P.R.P.) assistance. Many families are denied assistance because they have no sustainable income. (That’s why they’re homeless)

A 30-year-old mother of a 7-year-old daughter and a set of 16 month old triplets have been living at the Siena Francis House, 1702 Nicholas St. in Omaha, where she shares a tiny room with her four children.

She lost her apartment because the triplets’ father, who was working and paying rent, is no longer in the picture. It was too hard for her to juggle full-time employment and child care she tries to work out with help from relatives.

She has finished high school but has no college. None of the three jobs she’s interviewed for since arriving at the shelter March 16 have called her back. Her 1987 Crown Victoria barely runs. She doesn’t trust it to haul her children, and there isn’t enough space.

Therefore her family is living at the shelter in a tiny toy room just off the TV room and not separated by any door; there’s a tiny playground on a strip of grass fenced in that offers little privacy and separation.

There are a myriad of personalities sharing their limited space. Some women are in the shelter’s addiction recovery program. Some have mental illnesses. As cute and happy as those blue-eyed, round-faced chubby triplets are, they are hardly noticed by some women crashing out in front of the single TV.

She is trying to get into an affordable apartment or home. The Omaha Housing Authority, the state’s biggest landlord for the poor, has a two-year waiting list for its Section 8 program. Section 8 is the federal rent voucher program that reduces rents on the private market and offers more housing choice to low-income people.

The OHA’s attorney George Achola, informed about her situation Wednesday, said he’d see if there was a way to help her sooner. Her main advocate at the shelter is trying to get her federal aid like a small monthly welfare check but in the meantime, she has no other option for her family but to stay at the shelter.

She is not the only homeless mother. As of midweek, Omaha’s three emergency shelters counted 110 mothers and 148 children. The actual numbers are probably higher because the mothers often double up with relatives or friends and not part of an official count.

Due to privacy concerns I am unable to contact this woman (or anyone else who lives in shelters) but I would be curious to know if she was given the opportunity to apply for HPRP assistance or if she too, would be denied assistance. Even though many of the chronic homeless have been helped by this program such as the woman in the video below:

It seems that many hard working families have fallen through the cracks simply due to the fact that they have fallen on hard times and currently have no sustainable income.

I would also be curious to know just how the $2.45 million in funds that was awarded to the Omaha Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) was used.

Is the funding for HPRP also going to be audited by Senator Nelson? Will the audit include funding for MACCH? Once the audit is done will the public have access to those documents?

These are just a few of the unanswered questions many may have.

As many of you know, I spent months investigating HPRP with an email and letter writing campaign contacting to many officials in city and state government including Senator Ben Nelson and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan with very little success.

Now with recent reports of mismanagement of funds it appears that the saying is true that, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Tad DeHaven of the CATO Institute wrote, “We have learned that when the government intervenes in the housing industry, politically driven decisions lead to corruption and economic distortion, not efficient public policies. The federal government should begin withdrawing from housing markets, including dismantling the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/hud/scandals

Maybe it’s time for the Homeless Community to march on Washington so that our leaders can see the enormity of the homeless problem up close and personal.

Remember, “By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.” Proverbs 29:4 NIV

On Sunday, March 6th, 60 Minutes aired a segment about the impact the recession has had on families and children. It featured the efforts of Seminole County Schools’ homeless education program and its school district homeless liaison, Beth Davalos.

After the program aired Seminole County was inundated with calls from people asking how they could help. Although this has been an enormous problem in our country for years, most people were shocked to find out that this was going on in a country so rich with resources.
I was shocked to hear that so many people were unaware of the homeless problem among youth and school children.

Do we still hold to the stereotype that homeless people are lazy, drug addicts living off of our tax dollars?

Could it be that so many of us are so wrapped up in our own little world of iPhones, Kindels, and plasma TVs that those who struggle with day to day necessities become invisible to us?

National statistics report the number of homeless kids at more than 1.5 million. More than 500 thousand are still under the age of 15, and some are as young as nine!

As responsible people we should try to reach these kids! We should try and try again. And if we commit ourselves to stepping out of our comfort zone to help just one homeless family we may never know, that a few years from now, a youngster was able to leave the streets because of the commitment and work we did today.

The single greatest need, for homeless and street kids is our continuous caring and real support. We must convince them that we care, and we want to help them get off the streets. Don’t give up. They need us!

13 homeless youth die every day!

How Many Children and Youth Experience Homelessness?
Final national numbers for the 2008-2009 school year have not yet been compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the most recent federal data, in the 2008-2009 school year, 954,914 homeless children and youth were enrolled in public schools.

This is a 20 percent increase from the 2007-2008 school year, and a 41% increase from the 2006-2007 school year. It is important to note that this number is not an exact estimate of child and youth homelessness; in fact, it is an underestimate, because not all school districts reported data to the U.S. Department of Education, and because the data collected represents only those children identified and enrolled in school.

Finally, the number does not include all preschool-age children, or any infants and toddlers. The economic downturn and foreclosure crisis have had a significant impact on homelessness: according to a national survey, one in five responding school districts reported having more homeless children in the Fall of 2008 than over the course of the entire 2007-2008 school year.

Recent research indicates that child homelessness may be more widespread than school data suggests. A study published in the August 2009 edition of the American Journal of Public Health found that seven percent of fifth-graders and their families have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

How Does Homelessness Affect Children and Youth’s Education?
With life filled with such uncertainty and loss, school should be a place of safety, structure, and opportunity. Yet homeless children and youth face difficult barriers to basic education.

These barriers include being unable to meet enrollment requirements. (Providing proof of residency, legal guardianship, and school health records.) Lack of transportation; lack of school supplies and clothing; and poor health, fatigue, and hunger are also a big problem for these children. When these barriers are not addressed, homeless children and youth often are unable to attend, or even enroll in, school, which prevents them from obtaining the education that is both their legal right and their best hope of escaping poverty as adults.

What Educational Rights Do Homeless Children and Youth Have?
Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (referred to as the McKinney-Vento Act) is a federal law designed to remove barriers to education created by homelessness, and thereby increase the enrollment, attendance, and success of children and youth experiencing homelessness. Key provisions of the Act include:
* Students who are homeless can remain in one school, even if their temporary living situation is located in another school district or attendance area, if that is in their best interest. Schools must provide transportation.
* Children and youth who are homeless can enroll in school and begin attending immediately, even if they cannot produce normally required documents, such as birth certificates, proof of guardianship, immunization records, or proof of residency.
* Every school district must designate a homeless liaison to ensure the McKinney-Vento Act is implemented in the district. Homeless liaisons have many critical responsibilities, including identification, enrollment, and collaboration with community agencies.
* Every state must designate a state coordinator to ensure the McKinney-Vento Act is implemented in the state.
* Both state coordinators and homeless liaisons must collaborate with other agencies serving homeless children, youth, and families to enhance educational attendance and success.
* State departments of education and school districts must review and revise their policies and practices to eliminate barriers to the enrollment and retention in school of homeless children and youth.

What Can I Do to Help?
There are many ways to help children and youth experiencing homelessness:
Volunteer or donate locally
Every community is unique, so it is important to learn the needs that have been identified by your local school district and by community service providers.
Contact your School District
Every school district is required to designate a local homeless education liaison, which is responsible for coordinating services and support for homeless students attending in the district. You can contact your local liaison by calling your school district, or you may contact your State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
Contact a Community Service Provider in your area
To find local homeless service providers in your community, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care webpage http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewCocContacts or the National Coalition for the Homeless’ national, state, and local directories. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/directories/index.html

Continuing my profiles of organizations in Omaha who reach out to the homeless and low income families I would like to highlight a very important ministry to the community.

Mission For All Nations

Mission For All Nations is a faith-based charitable organization founded to put love into action by providing food, clothing, shelter and other necessities to people of all ethnic backgrounds who are in need. They are creating an environment where lives are being changed instead of fostering dependency.

Last year their Homelessness and Hunger Prevention program supplied food pantry orders to provide a 5-7 day supply of food equivalent to over ½ a million meals to 26,870 individuals in economic distress along with personal hygiene products for each household. That is more food distributed directly to clients than any other pantry in the state of Nebraska. Additionally, nearly 20,000 clients received clothing and household goods. Overall, nearly $2 million in necessities were distributed to improve the lives of people experiencing an urgent need.

Their History

Josue Anaya was sent away from El Salvador by his mother in order to escape the bloody civil war in 1984. Later that year, after getting separated from his missionary contact, he nearly froze to death on the streets of Des Moines. After a dramatic rescue, he believed God had saved him to help others in similar desperate circumstances. In 1986, he married his wife Mary, and over the years they frequently provided shelter for homeless people out of their home. In 1992, they moved to Omaha and in 1999 both graduated from ministry school and started a small bilingual church. After working two years in the South Omaha community and receiving frequent requests for assistance with basic needs, they realized that the need was greater than they alone could meet.

The Anayas, ordained ministers fluent in English and Spanish, had started a church in 1999 in South Omaha. But they were constantly helping visitors with clothes and food.

“The ministry grew more into a pantry than a church,” Mary Anaya told The World-Herald in 2004. “We realized that what was needed in this community maybe wasn’t what we originally thought. We changed gears.”

A group of local business owners and clergy was asked to form a board for a new organization, and Mission For All Nations was born in November of 2002. The new organization was incorporated in January 2003 for the purpose of providing food, clothing and shelter for the needy of all ethnic backgrounds. Mission For All Nations is now the largest food pantry in a 93-county area of Nebraska and Iowa. The organization incorporated in 2003 and quickly grew to encompass three buildings in the 21st and Q Streets area.

Pastor Mary Anaya

Pastor Mary Anaya dedicated her life to the Lord and the spreading of the Gospel by demonstrating love in action and serving people in need. Her hard work was paramount in developing Mission For All Nations into the largest food pantry in the area. Her passion for the poor was evident in everything that she did and has made our community a better place to live.

Though diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer early in her pregnancy, she tried to continue her work with the food pantry she co-founded. But she died early Wednesday, October 21, 2009 just after midnight at Bergan Mercy Medical Center at age 42. So did her 19-week-old unborn baby due in March whom she carried, leaving behind her family and a long history of loving her neighbor as herself. She will be missed but her legacy will continue to be carried on through the work of Mission For All Nations.

Mary was the organization. When you said, ‘Mary Anaya,’ everyone knew it was Mission For All Nations. She gave everything she had. She and husband Josue would have given the last box of food out of their home cupboard to help somebody.

Anaya, who had no cancer history and was not a smoker, went to see a doctor Aug. 21, 2009 when she was having difficulty breathing. She was hospitalized for fluid buildup on her lungs. She was later diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Cancer during pregnancy is rare but not unheard of — about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies coincide with a mother’s diagnosis of cancer, according to the Houston-based M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Mary was in her first trimester when diagnosed with cancer and was told that the disease was too advanced for treatment options.

The Omaha Food Bank has distributed almost 278,000 pounds of food to Mission for All Nations. That represents about a quarter of the 1.16 million pounds of food the food bank distributed to 55 agencies in Douglas County.

Unlike most food pantries, which limit visits to several times a year, Mission For All Nations had an open-door policy for the needy, as long as they volunteered.

In 2009 Mission for All Nations provided 37,109 individuals with a week’s supply of food and 240 families were provided a 1-2 day supply of food. Clients also received 29,398 clothing and household items.

Watch Mission For All Nation video here

As we approach the holidays Mission For All Nations is in need of turkeys and holiday foods. They anticipate serving over 4,500 people in November alone. An extra donation of $31 will help provide holiday food for the working poor. They also need extra volunteers to help with food distribution and toy registration for their ‘Christmas for South O Program.’

If you are interested in helping Mission for All Nations you can contact them at (402) 733-2077 or register online here

For more information about Mission for All nations visit http://www.missionfan.com/index.htm

Rebecca Admire is an unemployed single mother of four. Along with the daily struggles of balancing the needs of her children, she fights an ongoing battle to balance her checkbook from her weekly unemployment check.

On Wednesday, Rebecca Admire sat in the Missouri Career Center for her four-week review. Unable to find work for five months, she looked for help at the center and was waiting to see a counselor, more than ready to take the next step into a new job.

A single mother of four, Ms. Admire lost her job at the Family Guidance Center for Behavioral Healthcare, a position she held for more than four years, in September. She has yet to find another job and is one of the 8.6 percent of St. Joseph residents who were unemployed in the latest count.

“It’s been hard to pay rent, and I have shut-off notices on all my utilities,” Ms. Admire said.
Living in a two-bedroom home with her children, her cousin also moved into her attic with her two children. Eight people in one house adds up in Ms. Admire’s utilities and emotions.

“I cry every time a bill comes in the mail,” she said. “Every time.”

Ms. Admire works for a temporary employment agency whenever they need help, but still struggles.

“If I work two days out of the week with a temp agency, I can’t claim unemployment that week,” she explained. “Sometimes it’s not worth it to work a couple days out of the week and have to skip the larger unemployment check.

“I made a promise (to the children’s father) that I would never go after him for child support,” Ms. Admire said. “Just as long as he did stuff with the kids.”

She takes care of her children with assistance from her mother, Nancy Bowman, and her boyfriend.

“I couldn’t live without (my mother),” Ms. Admire said. “And my children love my boyfriend because he is so good to them.”

Although the economy makes her life hard, she knows how lucky she is to have strong people in her life.

“I would have fallen apart many times without (my mother),” Ms. Admire said. “She’s come over and cleaned for me, cooks, and watches the kids. I couldn’t live without her.”

Being a mother has been difficult on Ms. Admire.

“There have been several occasions where I broke down crying, questioning if I’m a good mother,” she said. “I have asked them if they are happy, and they say, ‘We don’t get to go out and do stuff,’” Ms. Admire said. “They say, ‘But we know you love us and that makes us happy.”

Ms. Bowman helps out as much as she can. “She’s my daughter, and these are my grandkids,” she said. “It’s no problem to help.”

This is the first time Ms. Admire has been without a job.
“I have always been able to take care of my kids,” she said. “I was depressed and had to go on medication because of all the stress and anxiety and depression.”

Heartland Counseling Services has seen people suffering from depression because of unemployment.

“People who have lost their jobs go through a range of emotions,” said Shirley Taylor, psychologist at Heartland. “They get angry, scared, discouraged and, if they can’t find a job after a while, they become embarrassed.”

Ms. Taylor said men feel a little more discouraged than women in a time of unemployment.

“Some men’s egos get really damaged,” she said. “It hurts their identity and sometimes they think something is wrong with them and look for someone else to blame.”

Ms. Taylor said looking toward the future with a positive attitude will help people searching for a job.

Trying to turn her life around, Ms. Admire collects food stamps and has been on Community Action Partnership’s utility assistance program.

“I have called CAP, called Catholic Charities and a few of the churches for help,” she said. “We were adopted for Christmas, so that helped, too.”

In her two-bedroom house, plus the attic, her four children share one room. All children sleep in one bunk bed. She places two on the top bunk and two on the bottom.

“It’s bad,” Brandon Brown, 9, the oldest of Ms. Admire’s children, said.

Life outside the bedroom is also a challenge. Brandon Jr. is unable to play in sports activities, which cost additional money.

“Sometimes kids at school talk about sports that I don’t play,” he said. “They ask questions, and I just don’t talk.”

Looking toward the future, Ms. Admire said she hopes to start a job soon, but will have to rely on tax refund money to get by temporarily. She continues to seek help from the Missouri Career Center and put in applications anywhere that may be hiring.

“This could happen to anyone,” she said. “Before people judge, I would tell them to look at it from my side and be willing to walk in my shoes.”

Re-Printed by permission
kristin.hoppa@npgco.com. http://www.stjoenews.net