April 19, 2021
Executive Director’s Report
Raising the Nation’s Youth Out of Poverty
Research has long demonstrated the interconnectedness of homelessness and poor school performance; now, we’ve seen another factor added to the mix ― COVID-19.
We know that for children to be able to focus and do well in school, their basic needs must be met. For those living in poverty, meeting these needs are rarely met and the situation is only made worse when a family loses their housing and enters the homelessness system. Throughout the public health crisis, more families than ever before have lost wages or employment making meeting their children’s needs nearly impossible.
At St. Paul’s Center, we’ve designed strategic wrap around services to meet these needs that may have previously fallen through the cracks. Since March, the Center purchased Chromebooks and enhanced our WIFI to ensure children in shelter and in our housing program had the tools necessary to attend school. We also launched a virtual homework help program for students to get the one-on-one attention they needed to achieve academic success.
The Center has also taken on increasing food costs to supplement families who previously relied on free/reduced lunch for their school-aged children; but, while we are proud of all that we’ve achieved over the last year, we recognize that this is only a temporary fix. To truly solve this issue, we need to invest in our Nation’s youth by raising children out of poverty to ensure their basic needs are met.
Over 60% of the mothers we’ve sheltered report experiencing homelessness as a child. An additional 45% of moms sheltered over the last two years did not finish high school. Most children in shelter struggle with school and this has only been made worse by COVID-19. Children are struggling without the structure of a classroom, distractions in their environment disrupt their focus, and mothers feel ill-equipped to assist with learning. With all of these obstacles occurring in our small 19-bed shelter, we can only imagine how impactful these challenges are throughout the Country.
In one national study, 42% of youth experiencing homelessness indicated they dropped out at least once during middle or high school. Another study found that these youth are 87% more likely to drop out than their stably housed peers. The challenges faced by this vulnerable population are significant, long-lasting, and start with the lack of stable housing that leads to frequent moves from school to school, and struggling to pay for school supplies, extracurricular activities, and college preparatory materials.
Yes, it has long been time for a comprehensive strategy to reduce the number of youth experiencing poverty during their childhood. Otherwise, generational poverty and homelessness will continue; a cost that affects us all.
Faces of Homelessness: The Davis’ Story
When COVID-19 began spreading early last year, we knew that the families we serve would be among those hit hardest. Unfortunately, we were right, and in a time when we should be pulling together, landlords across the Capital Region continue to illegally evict and force out tenants by refusing to maintain their units. The Davis’ have witnessed this callousness firsthand when their landlord refused to fix plumbing and heating issues making their apartment unfit for the family to live in.
Using Empowerment as a Catalyst for Long-Term Housing Success
At the Center we’re proud to provide more than just shelter to the mothers and children we serve, that’s why we’re proud to launch the Women’s Empowerment Program. Grounded in the three pillars of empowerment, this program gives mothers the space to support, empathize and uplift one another.
Volunteer Spotlight | Fuerza Latina
Like many other nonprofits around the Country, our volunteer programs were forced to shift as a result of the public health crisis. We’re so thankful to volunteer groups like UAlbany’s Fuerza Latina who have continued to reach out and provide support to our families throughout these uncertain times.
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