April 19, 2020
Executive Director’s Report
The Financial Reality for Families Across America
It’s easy to dismiss the challenges that face families experiencing homelessness by assuming it won’t ever happen to you or your family; however, new reports show that not only is it possible, but more Americans than ever are at risk of experiencing financial turmoil and losing their home.
In Rensselaer County alone, 12.6% of families were living in poverty in 2017. That’s a 6.5% growth since 2012. In addition, about one third of families in the County are headed by a single mother. Of these families, a staggering 41.6% are living below the Federal Poverty Line. Historically, women have always been found at the center of poverty and the struggles that come along with it. That’s what makes our services so important for the community.
A survey conducted by Charles Schwab found that 59% of Americans are only one paycheck away from becoming homeless. Although unemployment is low and has been steadily decreasing for years, the majority of created jobs don’t pay workers a livable wage. In fact, the median hourly wage for 44% of all workers is a mere $10.22. That’s not enough to afford rent in any county in the United States, let alone the added cost of groceries, utilities, and other basic needs. This leaves low-wage workers racking up debt and often having to choose what bills they can afford to pay each month.
But according to Kasey Wiedrich, former Senior Fellow at Prosperity Now, this isn’t just a problem facing low-income families, “…this is a problem of middle-class people and even people with higher income without enough savings. If they hit a shock, they are in the same boat.”
Under these circumstances, all it takes is rent going up, becoming ill, or having an unexpected emergency for a household to lose what sense of financial security they once had. Unless we start seeing real change, more and more families will find themselves homeless, and, someday, one of those families might be yours.
I encourage you to read this newsletter and follow us online to learn the ways you can support families we serve and begin advocating for change.
Affordable Housing is Headed Your Way!
After years of hard work, sweat, and a few tears, renovations are finally coming to a close on our new Lee Dyer Family Apartments that will provide permanent supportive housing to ten families with a history of homelessness. In addition to stable housing, this new program will provide case management services including life skill development, medical support, advocacy services, and enrichment activities for the entire family.
Improving Outcomes: Using Social Determinants of Health
In recent years, health care disparities have become an important issue facing individuals and families across the United States. After the World Health Organization created the Commission on Social Determinants of Health we began to understand the social and economic factors, including access to housing, that often lead to avoidable inequities.
Volunteer Spotlight | Carley Starr
When Carley comes in for her volunteer shift each week, it’s exciting to see how much the kids’ faces light up – especially because Carley’s arrival means it’s homework time at the Center. As a Homework Helper, Carley provides the one-on-one attention many homeless children crave, all while helping students continue learning as they work to achieve their academic goals.
With the effects of the pandemic hitting persons experiencing homelessness particularly hard, our support services have become more important than ever. Nonetheless, we’ve had to get creative and pivot many of our volunteer programs to the virtual space to ensure the...
With the launch of our new Lee Dyer Family Apartments Program, we’ve brought Davida Cancer on staff to provide support and case management services to all participating parents and youth. In her new role, Davida has quickly learned just how important these services...
Throughout my time serving as Board President, it has become my personal mission to advocate for families experiencing homelessness across Rensselaer County; however, this was not always the case. It was only when I became involved with St. Paul’s Center that I...