Battling Homelessness & Hunger

Field Research: Volunteering

24, نوفمبر 2010

Sunday we as a group volunteered with a shelter. We went to the shelter, packed up, and then drove in a caravan to a liquor store not far from the shelter. The reason, I’m assuming, that the shelter picked this particular place to hand out breakfast on Sunday morning was because of the spacious parking lot.

When we got there at nine, there were people already standing in line; locals who were familiar with the service. The group set up tables, set out food, and assignment our group to hand out coffee to those that were waiting in line. As service began, our group split up: three of us poured syrup on people’s plates and two of us held trashbags.

This left us with ample opportunity to observe and communicate. Our observations consisted mainly of the following:

1. As the people (homeless and poor) waited in line, someone was either preaching or playing Christian music. While this is not entirely problematic in and of itself, it did seem that it might bother those who were not Christian or already affiliated with some other religion. This is when we noticed a missing element in most homeless oriented services: there are very few that are not associated with some religion.

2. Most of the people there were single males. I would say that 90% of the people were served that day were male. There were a few women, and only one of two children. This led us to believe that either most poor families were already getting assistance, that they did not know about the service, or they found the service to inconvenient to bring their children. However, after we conducted some research, we found that the majority of homeless people are single men and women, so that perhaps this difference was merely proportional.

3. In essence, the people who were there came to us rather than the other way around. Our group wondered how many people who might be hungry and nearby were unaware of the breakfast that was being served. We then thought that we might innovate a way to bring a meal service directly to those who needed it.

4. Even at the breakfast, there were leftovers. Surely it would have been more efficient to have means to hand out these leftovers, rather than taking them back to the kitchen at the shelter.

Elevator Pitch

22, نوفمبر 2010

For: the hungry and homeless; single men and women 20-45

Who are dissatisfied with: not being helped by organizations unaffiliated with religion, being hungry during off-hours at soup kitchens, and having  to journey to the soup kitchen.

Innovation offering: a food kiosk, mobile and fully functional

That provides: a more-easily accessible  food service provided by an  by an organization unaffiliated with religion.

Unlike: denominational shelters and soup kitchens

MISSION STATEMENT:

Our mission is to take leftovers from businesses and restaurants and transport this food directly to the homeless and hungry of Atlanta.

Research

20, نوفمبر 2010

Federal definition of homeless:

  1. an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and
  2. an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is –

A. a supervised publicly or privately operated sheter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill)

B. an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or

C. a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings

http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/topics/homelessness/definition

Problems with homeless shelters:

-incompatible with working hours

*rigidness: waiting in line, checking in too time consuming

*if 9-5, waiting in line would begin before work ends

*often require AA/drug abuse rehab classes that are during work, regardless of

whether people have drug/alcohol problems or not

-handicap incompatible

*many shelters in old, refurbished buildings

-attract predators; volunteers can’t deal with real violent behavior

-many homeless sick, can’t risk getting sick (tuberculosis)

-check in process often “humiliating and dehumanizing”

-separate families

*women can bring male pre-teens into women’s shelters, but not those 13+

*women and men can’t be in same shelter; husband and wife

*children can’t stay in men’s homeless shelters, leaving single fathers in difficulty

-fear of parasites

*budgets don’t allow for cleanliness; beds seldom changed

*leads to parasites: head lice, pubic lice, scabies

-feel looked down upon because shelter staff assumes homeless are drug addicts,

criminals

-danger of theft

-service dogs not allowed

*mobility dogs (help get into wheelchair, up stairs, etc.) or provide assistance for mental conditions (anxiety, agoraphobia)

*Seeing Eye dogs and hearing assistance dogs not allowed if missing paperwork or official harness

-religious differences

http://www.squidoo.com/why_homeless_people_avoid_shelters

“The average length of stay in emergency shelter was 69 days for single men, 51 days for single women, and 70 days for families.  For those staying in transitional housing, the average stay for single men was 175 days, 196 days for single women, and 223 days for families.  Permanent supportive housing had the longest average stay, with 556 days for single men, 571 days for single women, and 604 days for women (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).  The homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-American, 39 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian, although it varies widely depending on the part of the country. An average of 26 percent of homeless people are considered mentally ill, while 13 percent of homeless individuals were physically disabled (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). Nineteen percent of single homeless people are victims of domestic violence while 13 percent are veterans and 2 percent are HIV positive.  Nineteen percent of homeless people are employed.

“In addition, a study of homelessness in 50 cities found that in virtually every city, the city’s official estimated number of homeless people greatly exceeded the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces…

“In a recent approximation USA Today estimated 1.6 million people unduplicated persons used transitional housing or emergency shelters.  Of these people, approximately 1/3 are members of households with children, a nine percent increase since 2007.  Another approximation is from a study done by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty which states that approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year”

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/How_Many.html

FantasticFive Fights Homelessness

10, نوفمبر 2010

Group Members: Anna Skipper, Blake Carson, J.J. Anderson, Karen Cheng, Olivia King

Project Topic: Homelessness and Hunger in Atlanta


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