Despite improvements, still 'a long way to go' for US homeless

Credit: Franco Folini (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A new report on homelessness shows some improvements in the country's response to those who are without shelter, but also a need for continued work, said an advisor to the U.S. bishops.

“There's a long way to go still, especially (for) those who are most vulnerable,” said Tom Mulloy, policy advisor on economy, labor, housing and welfare for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a June 3 interview with CNA, he explained that “the vast majority of people who compromise the homeless population are non-chronic persons and families who have fallen on hard times,” rather than people who are continually without a home.

“We're talking about people for whom living paycheck-to-paycheck is a hard reality.”

Mulloy spoke in reference to a new report by the Homelessness Research Institute. The report shows a slight decrease in U.S. homelessness as the economic recovery from the financial crisis of 2008 continues, as well as a decrease in unemployment and increase in shelter services and re-housing programs.

However, these trends were not uniform throughout the country; 20 states showed an increase in homelessness, and some populations – such as veterans – saw extremely high rates of homelessness in some regions.

In addition, the report found that the economic recovery is reaching the poor at a slower rate, with the number of those in poverty increasing between 2012 and 2013, and the rate of poverty remaining the same nationally even as unemployment rates decrease.

Furthermore, the number of poor rental households paying more than half of their income towards housing – a key risk factor for homelessness – increased nationally.

Mulloy noted both the “modest uptick in affordable housing need” and the lack of “employment security” nationally for those at risk of losing their homes as among the most pressing concerns highlighted by the report.

For many people in a vulnerable housing situation, he said, “one hard expense is the difference between making and not making rent one month.”

The Catholic Church has played an essential role in addressing the challenges facing the homeless and those at risk of losing their homes, Mulloy said, by “making sure that there's an adequate amount of safe and affordable housing.”

“In 2011, Catholic Charities provided approximately half a million people with housing assistance,” helping to provide “the complete spectrum of housing” for homeless and vulnerable persons, he explained.

At the same time, he said, the U.S .Conference of Catholic Bishops has advocated “federal policies that are known to alleviate poverty,” particularly child- and working- tax credits that are “pro-family, pro-work, and are some of the most effective ways of alleviating poverty.”

In addition to “advocating decent jobs with just wages,” the conference has also been “supportive of federal appropriations” in helping families and local communities address poverty and housing vulnerability, Mulloy added.  

“The bishops’ conference has been for years an advocate of the national housing trust fund,” he said. “There's a pretty extraordinary unmet need, and we all need to work together to make sure that the most vulnerable among us have access” to housing and other necessities.

In addressing homelessness and poverty, he explained, “the bishops have never said it's an either/or, but a both/and case of the private sector and the public sector.”

This includes a “mixture of private and public” funding to address the issue.

Based on the latest report, Mulloy said, “what we're doing on a national level is working, but more can be done.”


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

February 14, 2016

  • Sunday, February 14

    Mother Cabrini Library and Chapel Open House, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3801 Scott Road, Burbank. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Region.

     

    Italian Catholic Club of SCV Valentine's Day Dinner Dance, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Parish Hall), 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Come enjoy a delicious gourmet buffet dinner and dance the night away to the music of Linda Pippin. Wear your favorite red dress, shirt and/or tie. All adults (single or married) are welcome. Tickets are $35 each (prepaid), or $45 at the door. Please call Anna Riggs at (661) 645-7877 to reserve your spot by Feb. 10.

     

    Stations of the Cross, 2 p.m. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles. Continuing each Sunday of Lent. For more info, please call Calvary Cemetery: 323-261-3106.

     

    Year of Mercy Mass and Pilgrimage in The Shrine of St. John Paul II, 3 p.m., Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, 3424 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles.  Mass celebrated in English with Fr. John Paul Gonzalez of Christ the King Church.  Mass will be followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession, with Divine Mercy Chaplet.  The closing prayer will be a blessing and veneration of the 1st class relic of St. John Paul II.  

    South Bay Catholic Co-ed Adult Softball League Pre-Season Practice Games, McMaster Park, 3624 Artesia Blvd., Torrance.  Must RSVP to Fred Lawler (League Commissioner) at (310) 504-0271 or fredlawler@hotmail.com.

Get our news by email

Bob Smith BMW 300x250
Bob Smith Toyota 300x250
Bob Smith Mini 300x250