The Paw Print
Every year La Puente hosts HOPE Week, a series of community events designed to promote understanding and boost education about homelessness. In the last few years, La Puente has focused on one particular issue or topic surrounding homelessness; this year the focus is on families. For more information please visit http://lapuenteevents.wordpress.com/ or our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lapuentehome.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend any of the HOPE week events there’s still one more chance. Friday 9/27 from 5:00pm-6:30pm, La Puente will be hosting a Celebration of HOPE at Milagros Coffee Shop. This will be a chance for the community to celebrate the work we do at La Puente and talk with members of the Adelante program, a two year transitional program for families. There will be stories from the Adelante program as well as pictures from a second grade class in Alamosa depicting their visions of home and family. After the reception feel free to stay for a show put on by the Alamosa Live Music Association.
Families with children are the fastest growing homeless population in the United States, representing 41 percent of the homeless population in 2009 (according to the National Coalition for the Homeless – NCH). If we look at homelessness using the federal definition then we are looking at “an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; or an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: (1) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); (2) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or (3) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings” (US Department of Housing and Urban Development). Not everyone who fits this definition is accounted for in statistics because people who are sleeping on the floor of a family member or friend’s home, living out of their car, or sleeping in a public space not designed as a shelter are difficult to count accurately. We can also look at housing stability as being broken down into three separate categories: stable housing, unstable housing, and homeless. Families and individuals with unstable housing also have a high risk of becoming homeless. There are many factors that contribute to homelessness, but according to the NCH there are some prominent causes for family homelessness including a lack of affordable housing, poverty, decline of wages, changes in welfare programs, and domestic violence. The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) also found that poor physical health, less than a high school degree when the first child is born, and a single parent household are contributing factors. With this overwhelming list of factors, it is clear that the issue of family homelessness is not simple. The National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) found that 84 percent of homeless families were headed by females and that over half of homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma. The children of homeless families are affected in many ways. In 2010 the NCFH compiled America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010, a report card for each state, detailing child homelessness. Colorado ranks 30th in the nation based on categories including number of homeless children, risk of homelessness, child well-being, food security, education proficiency and state policy and planning. There are many programs in the SLV that work to assist families dealing with homelessness. La Puente’s family program, Adelante, is a two year program that works with families to reach their goals and to help them live independently and with dignity. Tu Casa assists families and individuals who are victims of domestic violence. There are initiatives to keep students in their initial schools regardless of housing, such as the McKinney Vento Program which helps to provide transportation for homeless students. The SLV Community Mental Health Center offers services to individuals and families who are struggling with a wide array of issues. These and other programs strive to help families in moments of crisis to take their next steps.
For more information, or if you would like to get involved in the work that La Puente does please don’t hesitate to contact La Puente by calling 587-3499, stopping by the office at 317 State Street, or emailing email@example.com.