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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Happy Birthday!!

Is Your birthday coming up? Want to support a great cause while celebrating your birthday? Consider hosting a Facebook fundraiser in honor of your special day!!! Just set an amount on your fundraiser page and encourage your friend start giving in your honor!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Our Homeless Seniors

It can happen to most people at any time. Many of us "older folk" grew up comfortable in the knowledge that there was help if we got into trouble. We could, at the very least, count on a safe place to sleep. That is no longer the case for a growing number of seniors. Since the seventies, with the breakup of extended families, the sad advent of the"tough love" movement and the rapidly changing work market and loss of retirement, more and more of our senior population are suddenly finding themselves on the street.

Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy. Since our launch in 2008, Invisible People has become a pioneer and trusted resource for inspiring action and raising awareness in support of advocacy, policy change and thoughtful dialogue around poverty in North America and the United Kingdom.

The following is an article from Invisible People 

Homelessness Among the Elderly Expected to Triple in 10 Years

Why America’s Elderly Are Falling Through the Cracks

Most adults hope that by the time they reach age 65, they’ll be able to comfortably retire. They may dream of finally having time to pursue their interests or take up new hobbies. There’s a whole other segment of the elderly population, however, that isn’t living the life they dreamed of. These individuals worry about how they will eat, where they will sleep, and what will happen if they get sick.

The number of elderly individuals experiencing homelessness is rising. In the Annual Homeless Assessment Report, released by HUD, the number of elderly individuals experiencing sheltered homelessness nearly doubled from 4.1 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2017. It’s not slowing down, either. This population is expected to triple over the next decade.

A new study out of UCSF showed that almost half of all elderly homeless people became homeless after age 50. These statistics tells us that whatever the problem is, it’s related to age. The question we need to ask ourselves is, why are the elderly falling through the cracks?

Lack of Retirement Funds and Savings

The people who are most at-risk for falling into homelessness at an older age are poor middle-aged individuals. They’re the ones making ends meet through low-wage jobs, but not making quite enough to put money away for retirement.

Their jobs also aren’t as likely to offer adequate retirement benefits. Only 23% of workers have pension plans, and only 15% of those are in the private sector. Low-paying jobs are the least likely to offer pensions, and even when employers offer programs like a 401(k), they’re not utilized as much by workers with low incomes.

People in general, homeless or not, are less confident about whether they’ll have the money they need to get through 20-40 years of retirement. A big part of this is debt. Around 77% of families with heads of households between ages 55-64 are in debt. This is a big problem when finances are already tight. More money owed means less to put into savings, along with the frightening possibility of foreclosure or wage garnishment.

As a result, more people are expecting to have to work post-retirement. Many don’t even have a definite age at which they’re aiming to retire. There simply is no end or relief in sight.

Injuries, Disabilities, and Illnesses

Americans may be working longer, but at some point they’ll no longer be able to perform manual labor. Standing for long periods of time becomes dangerous or even impossible due to health concerns. Disabilities like arthritic and illnesses like chronic pain contribute to people over age 50 not being able to work their former jobs.

To compound the problem, elderly homeless individuals typically have medical needs that those with housing 20 years their senior have. This makes it more difficult for seniors to climb out of homelessness once they enter it.

Most resources and programs are equipped to tackle the major problems facing the general homeless or at-risk population, like mental illness, substance abuse, and housing assistance. Not many offer solutions specifically for the aging, the greatest of which may be physical health.

Government programs are out of date and designed for younger generations. They do not address the entirely different set of factors that place the elderly at risk.

Higher Costs of Living

The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, minimum wage today would need to be $19 per hour to keep up with necessities like food and housing. Nearly everything costs more than it did for baby boomers when they were younger. Gas prices, healthcare costs, and automobile insurance rates are all going up.

While inflation rises higher and higher each year, wage stagnation ensures Americans have a harder time keeping up. When taking all the increased costs into account, wages haven’t increased significantly. Nearly 40 years ago in 1980, minimum wage was $3.10. It’s just barely doubled, although the average price of a house has quadrupled since that same year. The median rent has doubled, according to a study from Apartment List.

Even the elderly who do have a pension or retirement account are still living on a fixed income. It doesn’t allow for rapidly rising inflation, much less exorbitant housing costs. A notice regarding a hike in rent or an unexpectedly high medical bill can mean financial ruin and, unfortunately, a step closer to homelessness.

Lack of a Safety Net

Many people turn to close family when they encounter financial hardships. For example, it’s common for young adults to move in with their parents during the unstable time immediately after college. For several reasons, older adults don’t always have the same safety net.

Elderly homelessness can begin with a divorce, if one’s spouse was the breadwinner and the other unskilled or uneducated. Other times it may be the eldest in a multi-generational household passing away, leaving the younger generations to fend for themselves.

Even if a struggling aging person does have family who can support them—a son or daughter they can move in with—it can be hard to accept the help. This is especially true if there’s a long-standing problem, like a disability, keeping them from getting back on their feet anytime soon.

Government programs that should provide a safety net, like Social Supplementary Income (SSI), don’t go into effect until an individual reaches age 62. This leaves out those between 50 and 62, who often have quite a few health problems of their own. This is especially problematic if they are low-income, as they’re less likely to receive preventative healthcare.

In addition, the average lifespan of a homeless person living on the street is 65. The tragic implication of this is that many will not even live to reap the benefits of SSI.

Our Response to Homelessness Needs to Adapt

The face of homelessness is changing. We need to take into consideration the unique challenges the elderly bring to the table. Resources and programs simply cannot be allowed to stagnate. We need: more affordable, permanent housing for seniors equipped with proper medical care to engage the struggling baby boomers and seniors by informing them about the resources that are available and finally, we need to empower the elderly by securing legal help when they face issues like foreclosure or financial exploitation. Legal aid is also helpful in securing safety nets for aging individuals, like getting them enrolled in social security when it’s time.No one wants to spend their golden years on the streets. Remember, then, to do your part by keeping yourself aware of the problems facing the homeless and advocating for change.

Victoria VanTol

Why America’s Elderly Are Falling Through the Cracks
Victoria VanTol holds a master's degree in social work. She is a therapist and freelance writer specializing in topics related to social justice and mental health.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Study warns of 156,000 Oregon Households at Risk of Homelessness

This following is an article from  The Oregonian/OregonLive  demonstrating how poverty is affecting everyone in Oregon and around the country.

We can all work together and help those in need get a hand up, not a hand out. At Grace Wins Haven, we work with each individual to identify the issues that lead to poverty and homelessness then we help the individual find resources to alleviate those issues.

You can help change the course of an untold number of lives per year through your tax deductible monetary donations, donations of goods and supplies that can be used at the shelter or sold to fund our mission, fundraising drives, on-line campaigns, by helping us acquire services, volunteering at the shelters...

See our list of needs at the bottom of this page and look for our fundraising notices. If you want to know more contact or come by Grace Wins Haven, who's contact info and address is in the column on the right. 

Study warns of 156,000 Oregon Households at Risk of Homelessness

By Molly Harbarger 
from The Oregonian/OregonLive 
Updated Mar 15, 2019; Posted Mar 14, 2019

A new study from a Portland economic firm says that Oregon has a disproportionately large share of the country’s homeless population -- and many more on the edge. 

The report jumped off a study done two years ago in which Portland residents said they were split on whether they thought the growing number of people living on the street was caused by economic forces or individual choices. 

A homeless man named Carl pushes a cart containing his belongings under I-5 on the east side of the Willamette River.

A homeless man named Carl pushes a cart containing his belongings under I-5 on the east side of the Willamette River.

The study’s authors said Wednesday that they think elected officials and policymakers have spent too much time and money alleviating the symptoms of homelessness and catering to residents who believe homelessness is a choice caused by people who don’t seek help for addiction or mental health issues.
Instead, the study’s authors, ECONorthwest, and funders, Oregon Community Foundation, called for state and local leaders to focus more on the large number of people who live on the edge of homelessness as well as people who have been homeless for a year or more and struggle to stay in housing.
“A lot of the policy solutions are in the space of what I would call the policy of last resort -- which is shelter expansion,” said ECONorthwest consultant John Tapogna.
The entire West Coast is in the midst of a homelessness crisis that sees more people forced on to the street each year. Max Williams of the Oregon Community Foundation said that the state’s largest philanthropic organization wanted more information about what the drivers of this crisis in Oregon is to figure out how to best invest money in stopping it. The foundation and its donor spends about $6 million to $8 million every year in housing and homelessness.
“While we’ve been watching this problem and investing in it in a variety ways for quite some time, what we felt was lacking was clear data,” Williams said.
Many of the ideas in the study will be common to nonprofits and local government bodies who work around homelessness issues. However, Williams said that the study provides a more clear-eyed look at quantifying what the challenges are for stemming the flow of people into homelessness by separating people considered to be chronically homeless and those who are homeless because of unexpected situations in their lives.
Here are three big takeaways from the findings:
1. Oregon’s population makes up only 1.3 percent of the country’s population, yet the state’s population of people who are considered chronically homeless and not in shelter makes up 5.6 percent of that segment of the national population.
2. There are 156,000 households in Oregon that are on the edge of homelessness. These are people who spend at least 50 percent of their income on rent and run the risk of losing their housing from one unexpected medical bill, a layoff or a car repair.
Tapogna said that his study shows that since the most recent recession, the Portland housing market has not kept up with demand -- creating 63 units of housing for ever 100 families formed -- and thus has placed immense pressure on people on the edge of homelessness.

Tapogna argues those are the people least served by the state and Portland’s existing homelessness services framework. He said that he thinks Portland Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services is one of the most effective governmental responses to homelessness in the country, but it won’t make a dent in people with incomes too low to ward off homelessness.
“That is a problem that then requires much more than your Joint Office and the number of very well-functioning and well-armed nonprofits,” Tapogna said. “This is a broad economic issue. It is an issue that involves the state Legislature, it’s an issue that involves community planning departments in cities and counties across the state, and it also involves the federal government that is the major provider of subsidies to low-income families.”
3. Local and state officials have some solutions for people who struggle the most to stay in housing, according to the study, but not enough analysis is done to figure out how to measure the benefits of those solutions and which tactic works best for which kind of person.
For instance, the study encourages Portland and Multnomah County’s push for more permanent supportive housing -- housing for people with little to no income who also have mental health issues, addiction, criminal records or other obstacles to staying in housing and becoming self-sufficient.
However, Tapogna said that the supportive housing model could use more measurements of who thrives best in that environment, and thus who should be prioritized for it. He also said that the cost savings long-term are not adequately known, among other measures.
-- Molly HarbargerThe Oregonian/OregonLive 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Free HIV Testing at Grace Wins Haven

Every Tuesday the Lincoln County Health Department offers free testing for HIV and hepatitis C at Grace Wins Haven 437 N.E. 1st in Newport.