Share – Vancouver, WA
According to a recent report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), Washington State’s 2009 homeless population was 22,728, an increase of nearly 4% between 2008 and 2009. And Washington State has a higher rate of homelessness relative to its population than the rest of the country.
NAEH’s report cites the following as contributing to homelessness in our state:
• Housing cost burden on poor households is up 5.3%
• Unemployment is up 68.87% (above national average of 60%)
• Average income of working poor is down 2%
• Housing foreclosures are up 35% (above national average of 21%)
• Percentage of uninsured person is up 4%
• Doubled-up population is up 14.68% (above national average of 11.76%)
Individuals are often the public face of homelessness. About 20% of all homeless people suffer from chronic homelessness. As they are often without health care of family support, these individuals become frequent users of public services such as emergency rooms, police and social services. Chronically homeless utilize approx. 50% of the pubic resources dedicated to supporting all homeless people. There were approx. 2,609 chronically homeless individuals in Washington State in 2009 (down from 3,073 in 2008).
Families typically become homeless as a result of a financial crisis, medical emergency, domestic violence or death in the family. Nationally, approx. 85,000 families experience homelessness each night. Homeless families require rent assistance, housing placement services, job assistance and other short-term, one-time services before being able to return to independence and stability. Family homelessness increased in Washington State by 9.17% (above the national avg. of 2.64%). There were 10,696 homeless families in Washington State in 2009 (up from 9,798 in 2008).
Veterans often become homeless due to war-related disability or due to the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life, which can be worsened by substance abuse and violence. In 2009, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs estimated that nationwide there are approximately 131,000 homeless veterans, accounting for 20% of the entire homeless population. There are between 4,000 and 6,800 homeless veterans in Washington State.
Youth often become homeless due to familial disruption, including divorce, neglect or abuse. A large majority of young people who experience short-term homelessness return home or rejoin family or friends. A small minority, an estimated 50,000 youth nationwide, experience long-term homelessness. Youth homelessness represents a challenge due to little definitive data on the population. Youth often do not interact with standard homeless assistance programs or government agencies.
You can help Share and the hungry and homeless in our community in a variety of ways: volunteer – prepare and serve a meal, provide assistance to Share Outreach clients, help fill backpacks for local school children, etc. – or donate new or gently-used clothes or non-perishable food items.
You can also make a financial contribution; this can also be done in a variety of ways: make an on-line donation at sharevancouver.org or send a check to: Share, PO Box 1209, Vancouver WA 98666. And, consider this: you can set-up monthly payments, take advantage of corporate matching (ask your employer for more information) and you can determine where your gift will help – you can indicate a specific program or you can ask that the donation be dedicated to where it is needed most.
Sources for the above information and statistics: Washington State Coalition for the Homeless; National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH); Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Learn about simple ways you can help make a real difference in people’s lives.