The Recession May Be Over, But More Americans Are Edging Closer To Homelessness

Posted: October 28, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Employment, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Money, Politics, Poverty

If you read, listen to or watch the news, it’s a good bet that you’re probably familiar with the phrase: "jobless recovery."

Since I’m not an economist or analyst, it’s difficult for me to completely understand the dynamics of how you can actually have an economic recovery if there isn’t any job creation taking place.

Yet, according to an Associated Press news article I read yesterday, later this week, the Government will be announcing that the recession if officially over. On the other hand, sometime next week, the Government will be releasing another set of data which is expected to point to an additional increase in unemployment.

Yes, you read that correctly: the recession is over, but the unemployment rate is going to rise.  

In fact, some economic analysts are saying that the national unemployment rate might remain around 10 percent throughout most of 2010.

One article I read on MSNBC last week went so far as to say:

"Even with an economic revival, many U.S. jobs lost during the recession may be gone forever and a weak employment market could linger for years.

That could add up to a ‘new normal’ of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans, some economists are suggesting."

What caught my eye in particular was the mention of the possibility for "lower standards of living."

Basically what is being said is that many more Americans might find themselves sinking deeper into poverty. And that moves them one step closer to potentially becoming homeless.

One of the by-products of the recession has been that local governments have had to find ways of making budgetary cuts. Some of the largest cuts have been to programs and services which elected officials deem to be of low priority. And, that’s as it should be. After all, painting lamp posts and trash cans shouldn’t be on anyone’s list of top ten things to do when public funds are running short.

Unfortunately, among those line items toward the bottom of the list are homeless support services. And, being at the bottom of the list makes them prime candidates for cutbacks in their funding.

At first glance, cutting back on financial support for homeless services may seem reasonable, and even necessary, to local governments – especially since they are trying to find ways of best utilizing their local budgets.

However, I’m wondering if they fully understand the long term – and negative – impact that reducing funding for these services may have on their communities?

Consider that homeless support services groups are generally unfunded to begin with. These organizations and agencies are always operating on a shoe-string budget. Some, due to funding cuts, find that they can no longer afford to keep their doors open.

During economically turbulent times – such as this nation is currently experiencing – there is an increase of folks who either become homeless or who are the verge of becoming homeless.

And where do they turn to for help?

To homeless support services organizations.

If the economic analysts are correct that the national unemployment rate will hover around 10 percent throughout most of next year, then there is a likelihood that there will be an increase of folks seeking homeless services.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that if funding for homeless services is cut and if the numbers of homeless increases, that there will be more folks who will be literally out in the cold. Moreover, without even the most minimal of safety nets, it is quite likely that those folks will find themselves in a prolonged period of homelessness.

To most city governments, it may seem like a fiscally necessity to cutback some funding for homeless services at this juncture. But, it is actually counter-productive because it will create a larger homeless population.

Consequently, the immediate "savings" will end up costing the taxpayer more in the long run.

  1. Evelyn Adams says:

    Hello, Michael

    It occurs to me frequently that if the government considered homelessness a crisis— something would have been done long ago to put much more emphasis on prevention of homelessness than its maintenance. Maybe I’m being too simplistic, but I don’t think so—IF our government cared about homelessness—it wouldn’t exist.

    I feel cutting homeless support services is part of a hidden agenda that has been served in our country for many years, and that is to grow the lower class. Someday, SOON, America will need to replace its dependence on foreign made goods outsourced from American companies. Who better to make them than a growing potential workforce of folks who are filling the shelters without jobs who would be only, so very grateful to have one?

    To quote an oldie but goodie, “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?” Thanks Michael, for “keepin on keepin on.”

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