Unlike any time in America’s history, today’s homeless are primarily women, children, and families. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of today’s homeless are not the people seen on the street. Today’s homeless are the “Invisible Homeless” who are without a place to live due to unforeseen life circumstances. They are parents who had to choose between paying the rent or paying for a daughter’s medicine. They are mothers who removed their children from abusive fathers. They are parents who lost their job because a manufacturer closed a plant. They are pregnant teens who were thrown out by angry parents. They are emancipated foster youth without a place to live or a means of support. They are senior citizens and veterans who no longer have a family to care for them. They are abused children removed from their homes for their safety. They are victims of natural disasters and other catastrophes. They are veterans returning from recent wars.
This population of homeless people needs a temporary home to regroup, catch their breath, and rebuild their lives.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), between 700,000 and 800,000 people are homeless on any night in the U.S., with between 2.5 and 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness during the course of a year.
Research indicates that – of the total population of homeless – 81 percent will enter and exit a shelter quickly, and not return for a prolonged period of time or never return. This population of temporary, or transitional, homeless individuals and families experience a life-altering event (e.g. job loss, natural disaster, divorce, abuse, medical conditions, or foreclosure) that drives them to homelessness.
Typically, these temporary homeless individuals and families merely need a second chance to get their feet back on the ground, attain self-sufficiency, and move quickly toward acquiring some sort of permanent housing.
Of the remaining 19 percent (19%) of the homeless population, nine percent (9%) enter and exit shelters repeatedly, and are referred to as “episodically homeless,” and 10 percent (10%) remain in shelters and are part of the chronic homeless population, also referred to as the “hopeless” or “street” homeless.
In a broad sense, today’s homeless refers to all of these populations. While HomeAid serves each of these populations with housing projects across the U.S., the organization’s primary emphasis is the 81-percent of temporary homeless, who are homeless today, but – if we are successful with service providers and community leaders – they will not be homeless tomorrow.
The U.S. Council of Mayors cites a number of diverse and complex factors that contribute to the problems of homelessness. Many of these factors are interrelated. Listed in order of frequency, the following causes were identified by cities surveyed in the Council of Mayors’ 2006 Report on Hunger and Homelessness: mental illness and the lack of needed services, lack of affordable housing, substance abuse and the lack of needed services, low-paying jobs, domestic violence, prisoner re-entry, unemployment, and poverty.
Narrowing the scope to the temporary or transitional homelessness, HomeAid serves a wide range of families and individuals who are in need of a dignified place to call home while they rebuild their lives. The following is a list of the top constituencies served by HomeAid:
Victims of domestic violence
Abused women and children
At-risk teens with no place to go
Women in crisis pregnancies and newborns
Young adults who have aged-out of the foster care system
Mentally disabled persons
People coping with debilitating medical conditions and/or the costs of treatment
Pregnant teens, and teen mothers and their babies
Victims of job loss, divorce, or desertion
Those affected by natural disasters and other catastrophes
Homelessness is an epidemic in San Diego. An estimated 10,000-15,000 people are without a home on any given night in our county. Nearly one-third of foster children become homeless in the 12-months after emancipation. The numbers are staggering, but the faces of the homeless are much like those belonging to you and me.
The homeless are women with young children or youth suddenly without foster parents. They are men and women unexpectedly laid off from jobs or overwhelmed by catastrophic medical bills. They are spouses abandoned in divorce or suffering from domestic violence. They are people struggling to recover from illness or injury. These are the temporarily homeless who need opportunities for new beginnings.
Since our founding in 2002, HomeAid San Diego has joined a national network of chapters to achieve one goal. We fight homelessness by bringing together builders, community leaders, trade partners, donors, volunteers and non-profit professional care providers. We galvanize people and organize resources to build transitional housing and shelters for men, women and children who are temporarily without a home.
Under the leadership of Builder Captains, HomeAid San Diego develops projects with the support of trade partners and volunteers. Once they are completed, non-profit professional care providers own and operate each project and utilize the facilities to provide services that help residents regain strength and purpose in a safe environment. Our goal – bring the fire of hope and pragmatic opportunities to individuals and families as they seek to restore their lives.
HomeAid San Diego has built fifteen projects with outstanding builders acting as Builder Captains and hundreds of local companies donating critical materials and services. These projects provide more than 1,000 bed nights each year in San Diego County. The total retail value of construction for these projects exceeds $18.6 million and 77% was donated by our Builder Captains and their trade partners.
“The capacity to care defines the best of who and what we are in communities. In that spirit, HomeAid San Diego has forged a partnership of builders, care providers, community leaders and donors. We build shelters for the temporarily homeless and in doing so, we help people begin new lives.”
– Mark Read, HomeAid San Diego founding Board Member & Executive Managing Director, Voit Real Estate Services