Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fire Destroys Santa Ana Soup Kitchen

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / December 15, 2009)
Staffers at the Southwest Community Center in Santa Ana grieve over a fire at the facility, which has been serving meals to the needy for more than 30 years and was getting ready to host its annual Christmas meal this Saturday. At center is Connie Jones, director of the center, with longtime volunteers Elsa Alvarado, left, and Jessie Allen. Jones is the granddaughter of Annie Mae Tripp, the center's founder.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


I want to stress that most of these do not require a large budget, or a team of thousands. Most of these can be done with families, including children of all ages, and two or three adults who are willing to listen, love and share what they have with people in need.

Idea for Ministry to the Poor

*Lower-income families (Housing projects, apartments, motels, etc.)
*Motel Ministry (especially for kids and families)
*Food/Grocery Distribution
*Homeless Ministry (Hot Dogs in the Park)
*Senior Home Visitation
*Prostitute Ministry
*Single Moms/Widows (Free oil changes, yardwork, grocery assistance, etc.)


*Lower-income families (Housing projects, apartments, motels, etc.)

This ministry works best when you get to know the management of the apartment or motel, etc. Explain to them that you're not there to preach or to promote your church. Disarm them with the idea that you really just want to bless people. Explain to them that your ministry will involve giving away free groceries (if possible) or hosting game times for the children (or puppet shows, crafts, etc.). Help them to visualize a monthly or bi-weekly carnival that they get to help bring to their residents. It makes them look like heroes and it gives you an opportunity to express the love of Jesus in tangible ways.

*Motel Ministry (especially for kids and families)

Essentially the same as above. I'd only add that befriending people is the key here. Pray for them. Listen to their problems. Find ways to help them that are practical. This should not be about money. It should be about helping them discover resources in your community, hooking up with other ministries doing work to help with education, rent, health concerns, etc.

Also, ask God to highlight one or two people or families that He wants you to focus on and love them with all you've got. Invite them to your house for pizza and a movie. Hang out with them. Learn to love them. This is where you realize that the real ministry is being done to you, not by you.

*Food/Grocery Distribution

Find a food bank nearby. Second Harvest is a national food bank, but you may have another in your area. Our small house church can purchase a week's worth of groceries for twenty or thirty families for under $100 a month.

As I've said previously, don't distribute the food after you preach. Just give them the food up front and bless them. Ask them at the end of the food line if they want prayer. Most will say yes. If not, just smile and bless them as they go back into their rooms. Consistency is vital.

*Homeless Ministry (Hot Dogs in the Park)

Again, this is very cheap and it's more about getting to know people who happen to be homeless and less about throwing food at the poor and running home.

We found a park where a lot of homeless hang out that also had barbecue stations at each picnic table. Our group set up the grill, cooked the dogs, laid out the fixings and then fanned out to invite the homeless to join us for a picnic. We sat with them, ate with them, asked them their names, where they were from, etc. Even our kids enjoyed getting to know our new friends.

*Senior Home Visitation

You will not believe the treasures that are hidden away in the senior homes near your house. Former Generals in WW2, former actresses, singers, engineers, writers, and even regular people who have amazing stories to tell. All they need is someone to listen. Give it time and you will soon find yourself falling in love with these people.

*Prostitute Ministry

This one is waayyy outside my comfort zone, but I've been out around 3 times with small teams to try to connect and pray for these girls. I'll write in more detail about the challenges and dangers of this ministry next week. Not for the faint of heart.

*Single Moms/Widows (Free oil changes, yardwork, grocery assistance, etc.)

This is more of a Men's Ministry thing, but it can be awesome to bless single Moms and Widows who need assistance around the house, with the yard, the car, etc.
Oh, and it's Biblical too.

Other Ideas for Ministry

*Local Newspaper/Community Response Ministry -
This is one I've always wanted to do but have yet to attempt. Basically it involves reading the local paper and responding in compassion to people in your city who experience the death of a loved one, is the victim of abuse or rape or violence, tragedy, etc. This is one that I feel could have a huge impact on your community if your church or small group could consistently respond to people in need of comfort and prayer support.

*Community clean-up (graffitti cleaning, trash pick-up, etc.)
Steve Sjogren and Mike Pilavachi have championed this form of "no strings attached" service to the community. When I was at Soul Survivor I was involved with massive groups of teens taking to the streets and cleaning up parks, neighborhoods, etc. This may involve contacting city officials and cooperating with them to discover their needs and partner with their employees.

*Clean toilets for local businesses
Again, Steve Sjogren championed this one a long time ago. It's an amazing way to demonstrate the love of Jesus in practical ways to local business owners. Most will be blown away that you show up with a bucket and cleansers to do the ugly job that none of them wants to do. When you explain to them that you're doing it because Jesus washed feet and this is the closest thing in our modern society to that, you'll be amazed at the reactions you get. Worth it for the stories you get to tell later, if nothing else.

*Free Car Wash
Be careful. People will argue with you to take their money. They simply cannot bring themselves to receive a free blessing with no strings attached. Do it anyway.


-See link at left for the entire series

Sunday, November 29, 2009


On December 4th at Edwards University Town Center 6 at 4245 Campus Drive, the documentary "The End of Poverty?" will open.

I encourage you to visit this website about the film and to consider taking a group to go and see this important film.

Visit TheEndofPoverty.com


-With so much wealth in the world, why is there still poverty?

The End of Poverty? is a daring and thought-provoking documenary by award-winning filmaker Philippe Diaz. This film reveals that poverty is no accident. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor.

Today, global poverty has reached new levels because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies - in other words, wealthy countries exploiting the weaknesses of poor, developing countries.

-Why do 20% of the world's population use 80% of its resources and consume 30% more than the planet can regenerate?

Can we really end poverty under our current economic system?

Think again.


Ending poverty is a daunting challenge. However, since it was made by human rules and institutions, new ones can unmake it, right?

The intention of the film is to change the dialogue so that concerned citizens will blame the system that creates poverty, not the people caught up in it. That requires a shift in our thinking.

The solutions touched on in the film are based on justice and not charity, solutions that will change the system that grinds down the poor.

This section will soon present specific campaigns that work towards changing the system, but the following is our call to action:

First, forgive international debt unconditionally and stop other predatory tactics. End the use of economic power as a means by which the wealthy control the poor.

Second, change the tax system in every country of the world. If justice is to be done, most of the taxes should fall on property ownership and not on the wages of working people.

Third, the poor should demand land reform, restoring land (or its value) to the people who actually work on it, instead of a few landowners.

Fourth, end privatization of natural resources and share these in common. Land, air, water, and oil are the common inheritance of all of humanity, not the stockholders of companies that have managed to grab these resources.

Fifth, "degrowth" in the rich nations--a radical cut in consumption of resources and production of waste--is necessary for the poor nations to survive. As Gandhi said, "Live simply, so others can simply live."

Visit TheEndofPoverty.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009



There's a fine line between advocacy and, well, poor taste. The ever-popular American Girls brand has released a controversial new doll named "Gwen," a character who's actually homeless.

CBS sent correspondent Hattie Kauffman to an L.A. shelter to gather some reaction to the doll:

[One homeless advocate] observed to Kauffman that she finds "the whole concept to be extremely disturbing. It's not a doll I would ever buy for a child."

There are between 7,000 and 10,000 homeless children in L.A. alone, Kauffman notes, and it's doubtful many, if any, could afford Gwen's $95 price tag.

One homeless woman in a shelter Kauffman visited said Gwen touched her heart when she saw the doll in its box.

The women praised the doll, Kauffman reports, until they learned Gwen isn't a fundraising device for the homeless.

Read more


WASHINGTON — The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest, widening the economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.

The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans — those making more than $138,000 each year — earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.

Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade’s worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997.

Poverty jumped sharply to 13.2 percent, an 11-year high.

“No one should be surprised at the increased disparity,” said Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University. “Unemployment hurts normal workers who do not have the golden parachutes the folks at the top have.”

Analysts attributed the widening gap to the wave of layoffs in the economic downturn that have devastated household budgets. They said while the richest Americans may be seeing reductions in executive pay, those at the bottom of the income ladder are often unemployed and struggling to get by.

Large cities such as Atlanta, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago had the most inequality, due largely to years of middle-class flight to the suburbs. Declining industrial cities with pockets of well-off neighborhoods, such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo, also had sharp disparities.

Up-and-coming cities with growing middle-class populations, such as Mesa, Ariz., Riverside, Calif., Arlington, Texas, and Henderson, Nev., were among the areas showing the least income differences between rich and poor.

It’s unclear whether income inequality will continue to worsen in major cities, said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Many Americans are staying put for now in traditional cities to look for jobs and because of frozen lines of credit.

“During the years of the housing bubble, there was middle-class movement from unaffordable metros with high-income inequality,” Frey said. “Now that the bubble burst, more of the population may be headed back to the high-inequality areas, stemming their middle-class losses.”


Monday, September 28, 2009

Does poverty make people obese?

Does poverty make people obese, or is it the other way around?
As a matter of public health, it might be more important to help poor people than fat people. According to epidemiologist Peter Muennig, the relative risk of mortality for being obese is between 1 and 2. That means that, controlling for other factors, someone who's really fat is up to twice as likely to die early as someone whose body mass index is in the normal range. But if you compare people from the top and bottom of the wage scale (with everything else held constant), the risk ratio goes up to about 3.5. In other words, it's much better for your health to be rich and fat than poor and thin.

Those in greatest need, furthermore, tend to be both poor and fat. We know, for instance, that the lower your income, the more likely you are to inhabit an "obesogenic" environment. Food options in poor neighborhoods are severely limited: It's a lot easier to find quarter waters and pork rinds on the corner than fresh fruit and vegetables. Low-income workers may also have less time to cook their own meals, less money to join sports clubs, and less opportunity to exercise outdoors.

If poverty can be fattening, so, too, can fat be impoverishing. Paul Ernsberger, a professor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University, lays out this argument in an essay from The Fat Studies Reader, due out in November. Women who are two standard deviations overweight (that's 64 pounds above normal) make 9 percent less money (PDF), which equates to having 1.5 fewer years of education or three fewer years of work experience. Obese women are also half as likely to attend college as their peers (PDF) and 20 percent less likely to get married. (Marriage seems to help alleviate poverty.)

When it comes to public health, the relationship between poverty and obesity gets more convoluted. Being fat can make you poor, and being poor can make you sick, which means that being fat can make you sick irrespective of any weight-related diseases. Fatness (or the lifestyle associated with obesity) also creates its own health problems, regardless of how much money you have—and health problems tend to make people poor, through hospital bills and missed days of work. So fat can be impoverishing irrespective of any weight-related discrimination.

The point here is that sickness, poverty, and obesity are spun together in a dense web of reciprocal causality


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Our Recession: More in poverty, without health coverage

WASHINGTON -- The early impact of the worst recession since the 1930s pushed median incomes down, forced almost 40 million more people into poverty and left more Americans without health care in 2008, according to new annual survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Poor people, working people, blacks, Hispanics and children bore a disproportionate share of the hardship. The new figures, however, likely understate the severity of the economic downturn because a large portion of nation's job losses and unemployment rate increases occurred after the Census survey data was collected in March as part of the annual Current Population Survey.

-Along the way, the nation's real median income - the point at which half the nation earns less and half more - fell 3.6 percent from $52,163 in 2007 to $50,303 in 2008. That was the first such decline in three years and the worst in the first year of any recession since Census Bureau began collecting the data during World War II, said Lawrence F. Katz, an economics professor at Harvard University.

-Men and women were both affected. Full-time working men saw their median incomes fall by 1 percent from $46,846 to $46,367, while female earnings declined by 1.9 percent, from $36,451 to $35,745.

-The worst is yet to come. "This is just the beginning, or the tip of the iceberg, because 2008 was not nearly as bad an economy as 2009," Katz said. The average unemployment rate in 2008 was 5.8 percent, up from 4.6 percent in 2007. That pales in comparison with the 9 percent average unemployment rate so far this year, and it's likely to increase. August unemployment was 9.7 percent, and it's expected to peak above 10 percent in the months to come.

The national poverty rate also hit its highest level since 1997, jumping to 13.2 percent in 2008 from 12.5 percent in 2007. The increase dragged 39.8 million people below the poverty line, the most since 1960. That's up from 37.3 million in 2007. For children, the poverty rate hit 19 percent, or 14.1 million youngsters in 2008. That means 35.3 percent of the nation's poor in 2008 were under age 18.

Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance increased from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, even though the percentage of uninsured Americans didn't change, at 15.4 percent. About 46 percent of the nation's uninsured are non-Hispanic whites, but as a group, 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites lack coverage, compared with 19 percent of blacks and 31 percent of Hispanics. About 45 percent of noncitizens lack coverage.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another Solution: Ignore Them

Nashville is one of several U.S. cities that these days are accommodating the homeless and their encampments, instead of dispersing them. With local shelters at capacity, "there is no place to put them," said Clifton Harris, director of Nashville's Metropolitan Homeless Commission, says of tent-city dwellers.

In Florida, Hillsborough County plans to consider a proposal Tuesday by Catholic Charities to run an emergency tent city in Tampa for more than 200 people. Dave Rogoff, the county health and services director, said he preferred to see a "hard roof over people's heads." But that takes real money, he said: "We're trying to cut $110 million out of next year's budget."

Ontario, a city of 175,000 residents about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, provides guards and basic city services for a tent city on public land.

A church in Lacey, Wash., near the state capital of Olympia, recently started a homeless camp in its parking lot after the city changed local ordinances to permit it. The City Council in Ventura, Calif., last month revised its laws to permit sleeping in cars overnight in some areas. City Manager Rick Cole said most of the car campers are temporarily unemployed, "and in this economy, temporary can go on a long time."

Full Story

Our Solution: Criminalize the Homeless

From an op-ed by Barbara Ehrenreich in the New York Times, which examines the moral and social impact of ordinances against the publicly poor. The op-ed is based on a new study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty which found that the number of ordinances against the "publicly poor" are rising. More American cities, according to the report, are enacting and enforcing laws against "the indigent."

"How do you know when someone is indigent? As a Las Vegas statute puts it, "An indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive" public assistance.

That could be me before the blow-drying and eyeliner, and it's definitely Al Szekely at any time of day. A grizzled 62-year-old, he inhabits a wheelchair and is often found on G Street in Washington -- the city that is ultimately responsible for the bullet he took in the spine in Fu Bai, Vietnam, in 1972. He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until last December, when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night looking for men with outstanding warrants.

It turned out that Mr. Szekely, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs or curse in front of ladies, did indeed have a warrant -- for not appearing in court to face a charge of "criminal trespassing" (for sleeping on a sidewalk in a Washington suburb). So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail. "Can you imagine?" asked Eric Sheptock, the homeless advocate (himself a shelter resident) who introduced me to Mr. Szekely. "They arrested a homeless man in a shelter for being homeless."

Full story

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Unemployed in the O.C. -Santa Ana Hardest Hit

The number of unemployed in Santa Ana is 22,300 and in Anaheim, it is 19,700, so these two cities account for a much more significant representation of unemployment in human terms.

The numbers indicate that about 1 out of every 6 unemployed people in the county live in Santa Ana.

Full story and statistics for the entire county

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The less you have the more likely you are to give; that's what new research from the McClatchy group shows, backing up this long-held belief with hard data.

According to the group's research, the poorest Americans give above their capacity, donating more in comparison than the most well off upper fifth of society.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two of America’s Worst Charities Call OC Home


Two of the 10 charities on a national “hall of shame” list are in Orange County - The Association for Police and Sheriffs in Fullerton, and The Association for Firefighters and Paramedics in Santa Ana.

Both claim to help those in need - victims of violent domestic abuse, and survivors of traumatic burn injuries - but actually spend the overwhelming majority of their money to raise money, and not to do good works.

This earned them the No. 4 and 5 spots on nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator’s “Ten inefficient fundraisers” list. Orange County really stands out here; no other state in the nation - not even New York! - managed to contribute two charities to this list. (Way to go, OC.)

The Association for Police and Sheriffs in Fullerton spent 88 percent of its money - $1.2 million - raising money. It only spent 4 percent - a measly $60,000 - to “end domestic violence and help women and children whose lives are devastated by abuse.”
The Association for Firefighters and Paramedics in Santa Ana spent 92 percent of its money - $3.6 million - raising money. It only spent 2 percent - a measly $80,500 - ”to help the survivors of catastrophic fires.”


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Call to Action: 50 Ways To Love Your Neighbor

A compelling list of tangible ways we can love others as Christ has loved us.

Read it all

Some highlights from the list:
13. Look up the closest registered sex offender in your neighborhood and try to befriend him.

26. Organize a prayer vigil for peace outside a weapons manufacturer such as Lockheed Martin. Read the Sermon on the Mount out loud. For extra credit, do it every week for a year.

29. Go through a local thrift store and drop $1 bills in random pockets of the clothing being sold.

32. Go to an elderly home and get a list of folks who don´t get any visitors. Visit them each week and tell stories, read the bible together, or play board games.

34. Create a Jubilee fund in your Church congregation, matching dollar for dollar every dollar you spend internally with a dollar externally. If you have a building fund, create a fund to match it to give away and by mosquito nets or dig wells for folks dying in poverty.

35. Become a pen-pal with someone in prison.

41. Cover up all brand names, or at least the ones that do not reflect the upside-down economics of God’s Kingdom. Commit to only being branded by the cross

43. Eat only a bowl of rice a day for a week to remember those who do that for most of their life (take a multivitamin). Remember the 30,000 people who die each day of poverty and malnutrition.

49. Serve in a homeless shelter. For extra credit, go back and eat or sleep in the shelter and allow yourself to be served.

BONUS: Come up with your own list of ways to love your neighbor. Do at least one of them before the end of the week.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Recession Increasing Interest In Homelessness

This week the homeless population of the United States received a profile boost. On Tuesday, during President Obama's primetime press conference, a reporter from Ebony magazine asked about the rise of tent cities across the country and a new study showing that every fiftieth American child is homeless.

"Part of the change in attitudes that I want to see here in Washington and all across the country," the president said in response, "is a belief that it is not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours."

A change in attitudes may be underway. While the recession has exacerbated homelessness, it has not created a new phenomenon. Take it from Obama: "The homeless problem was bad even when the economy was good," he told the Ebony reporter.

The headlines about shantytowns and homeless children may reflect more of an increase in interest in homelessness than the impact of the recession. Those tent-dwellers sunk their stakes before this recession started, and the child homelessness study is based on data from three years ago. The tents and the homeless kids are indicative not of the current economy, but of a long-standing problem.


Friday, March 20, 2009


Homelessness in Orange County
Over 35,000 people in Orange County California are homeless and 80% of those are families with children. Most of these live in motels because they cannot afford first and last month's rent, and a security deposit. They are faced with the choice of food on the table or a table on which there is no food.

ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT recently did a report on the "Hidden Homeless" living in OC Motels:

ABC 7 News - "Hidden Homeless In OC Motels"
(Features interview with Jim Palmer of the Orange County Rescue Mission)

ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT - "Motel Homeless" segment

The segment mentions that church groups have been helping with food and resources and Jim Palmer, founder of the Orange County Rescue Mission, is interviewed in both the National and the local segements.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

10 Reasons Why Homeless People Choose To Be Homeless

A question that has often been brought up here amongst the comments is the question of choice. Are homeless people who appear to be homeless by choice less deserving of compassion or assistance than others? If they do indeed choose this lifestyle why should anyone interfere, why should anyone go out of their way or put their hands in their pockets to help them?

Rarely does anyone ever choose to become homeless. I won’t deny the existence of a tiny minority of Robinson Crusoe types that put on their backpacks and drop out of society, favoring a simple lifestyle of woodland living. Some people do this for a relatively short period, more like an extended camping trip but there are very, very few indeed that maintain this lifestyle for a protracted amount of time. Of the remaining ninety-nine percent the reasons for becoming homeless are many and varied but whatever the initial cause of their homelessness and despite all the programs and shelters and missions that are available today some do appear to remain homeless by choice. If you actually ask homeless people why with all the services available do they prefer to stay on the streets, some will even tell you that they choose to be homeless. But do they really? The reality is a lack of suitable alternatives.

The following are some of the main reasons why homeless people choose homelessness over the available services:

1. Safety

Many homeless people avoid using shelter services for fear that their personal safety could be compromised. Whilst most shelters take precautions where practical they are often run, through necessity, on skeleton staff levels of volunteers who are likely not professionally qualified to deal with violent conduct and as such cannot guarantee personal safety. There may well be violent offenders, addicts and mentally imbalanced individuals sharing the room in which you would be expected to sleep.

2. Personal belongings

Homeless people travel light. They own very little and you can be sure that the few things they do possess and carry are either necessary for their survival or they consider the items very precious. They protect the few belongings that they do have tenaciously. Most shelters do not have secure storage available which means that personal belongings can be left lying around and vulnerable to theft.

3. Pets

Homeless people are socially excluded. If they are spoken to at all by the general population it is more often than not to be jeered at. Sometimes they can go weeks, months or even years without speaking to a single soul. This isolation can be one of the most difficult aspects homeless people have to deal with. Many would rather share what little food they can gather with a dog in exchange for the companionship they provide than be completely alone. It is not hard to understand why they would be reluctant to give this up but very few shelters or state supported accommodation programs make provisions for pets.

4. Health Hazards

Death and homelessness go hand in hand. The average age at death of a homeless person in America can be as low as 41 years depending on the state you live in. Homeless people often have difficulty in accessing medical care. Poor diet and exposure to the elements can mean that a relatively minor injury or disease could prove fatal. The risk of picking up an infection is massively increased when using shelter services.

5. Control

Shelter living effectively means being told what time you have to go to bed, what time you have to get up, what you are going to eat and what time you are going to eat it at. It likely also means limited availability as to what times you are able to use washing facilities. In essence your freedom is restricted and your life no longer your own.

6. Daytime Hours

Most shelters are nighttime only. This means that come the morning (and it is usually very early) you have just a short time to get your gear together before being turned back out onto the streets. It matters not whether it might be rain, sleet, snow or hail, you have to leave and you may not return prior to the time allotted for opening the following evening. If you show up late, no matter what the reason may be, this will usually result in missing your spot for that night. That is, of course, if there were any beds left available in the first place.

7. Addictions

Although the common held stereotypical myth that all homeless people are addicts and alcoholics is not true, there is a significant proportion that do suffer from alcoholism and/or substance abuse issues. There are also a great number of them trying desperately to kick these habits. In order to have a realistic chance of breaking the cycle it is necessary to avoid associating with other addicts wherever possible and staying away from places where they are likely to hangout. For many, this means staying away from shelters.

8. Privacy

People need personal space. Staying in a shelter means sharing a dormitory, sharing a meal room and sharing bathroom facilities with fifty or so other residents. Ever tried sleeping in a room full of fifty other people all chatting, laughing, coughing, snoring and breaking wind? It is worth remembering that some of these emergency ’shelters’ consist of no more than a mattress on a church floor. It may be warmer than the streets but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to get more sleep.

9. Intrusion and Anonymity

Many state programs require a very intrusive application process. It can mean disclosing highly personal and potentially embarrassing information. Personal history, family background, police and medical records and financial history are all fair game. There are many reasons why anybody would prefer to keep certain things quiet. Some maybe sinister but others can be tragic. It is widely believed that a significant proportion of missing persons are homeless people.

10. Required Religion

A large percentage of homeless shelters have a religious affiliation. Not all but many of those that do have one impose a requirement to attend religious services in order for a person to be granted access to their food and shelter facilities. This can, of course, be offensive to some and particularly those who belong to an ethnic minority, which tend to be over-represented amongst the homeless population.

This is not intended in any way to be an attack on the services offered by rescue missions and shelters. In fact, I strongly believe that they do a fantastic job of providing an invaluable service with very limited resources. The truth is that they do their best to fill a huge void caused largely by societal and political shortcomings and the homelessness situation would be very much worse than it already is were it not for their efforts. Unfortunately though they cannot realistically be expected to provide an effective solution with the available finances and other resources at their disposal.

Do homeless people ever really choose to be homeless? No, not really. Still not convinced? Well next time you see a homeless person sleeping on the streets try dangling the keys to your nice plush suburban home under his or her nose. Inform them that the central heating is fired up, the fridge is fully stocked and there is fresh linen. Tell them Fido is welcome, they can have their friends over and they can come and go as they please. I can guarantee their will be a dozen proverbial shopping carts parked in your driveway come lunchtime.


COMMENTARY: This article is largely helpful in understanding the challenges faced by people who live on the streets. I disagree that these factors prove that some homeless people do not choose this lifestyle. I (Keith) have personally worked with homeless people who absolutely prefer to be homeless and will only accept assistance to maintain their homeless lifestyle, they will refuse assistance connected with getting off the streets - and not for any of the reasons the author of this article above has listed.

Mainly, those who prefer to remain homeless are either stubbornly clinging to the "I Did It My Way" principle, and/or are mentally challenged and cannot get the help and housing they need due to lack of state/federal funds, etc.

Still, a good article with an accurate snapshot of what life on the streets can be like for many.


To contact the author of this blog:
"elysiansky" at hotmail

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As Jobs Vanish, Motel Rooms Become Home

*An article on the motel homeless families in the OC published in the NY Times

As Jobs Vanish, Motel Rooms Become Home
Published: March 10, 2009

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Greg Hayworth, 44, graduated from Syracuse University and made a good living in his home state, California, from real estate and mortgage finance. Then that business crashed, and early last year the bank foreclosed on the house his family was renting, forcing their eviction.

Now the Hayworths and their three children represent a new face of homelessness in Orange County: formerly middle income, living week to week in a cramped motel room.

"I owe it to my kids to get out of here," Mr. Hayworth said, recalling the night they saw a motel neighbor drag a half-naked woman out the door while he beat her.

As the recession has deepened, longtime workers who lost their jobs are facing the terror and stigma of homelessness for the first time, including those who have owned or rented for years. Some show up in shelters and on the streets, but others, like the Hayworths, are the hidden homeless — living doubled up in apartments, in garages or in motels, uncounted in federal homeless data and often receiving little public aid.



"...like many other families, they cannot muster the security deposit and other upfront costs of renting a new place."

"Still, a source of turmoil for motel families is a California rule that after 28 days, residents are considered tenants, gaining legal rights of occupancy. Some motels force families to move every month, while others make families stay in a different room for a day or two."

"(Motel families) are especially prevalent in Orange County, which has high rents, a shortage of public housing and a surplus of older motels that once housed Disneyland visitors."

“The motels have become the de facto low-income housing of Orange County,” said Wally Gonzales, director of Project Dignity, one of dozens of small charities and church groups that have emerged to assist families, usually helping a few dozen each and relying on donations of food, clothing and toys."

"(These motels) look like any other modestly priced stopover inland from the ritzy beach towns. But walk inside and the perception immediately changes.

In the evening, the smell of pasta sauce cooked on hot plates drifts through half-open doors; in the morning, children leave to catch school buses. Families of three, six or more are squeezed into a room, one child doing homework on a bed, jostled by another watching television. Children rotate at bedtime, taking their turns on the floor. Some families, like the Malpicas, in a motel in Anaheim, commandeer a closet for baby cribs."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


*from the OC Register article HERE

Miracle on Piper Place by Lori Basheda (OCRegister.com)

It all began the day the fires raced up over the hills toward Piper Place. Suddenly a megaphone was blaring: neighbors had 10 minutes to evacuate.
Darcie Campbell and her husband Ken scrambled to get in the car when they saw a neighbor walking slowly to her car two doors down.

The Campbells knew that Sandy Maitlen lived in that house, the one with the overgrown weeds. But no one ever really saw Sandy. And the less people saw of her, the more the tales grew. "We all sort of shunned her," Darcie says.

But now here she was walking to her car in the smoke, looking shaken. Ken ran over: Do you need help? he asked.

And she started crying.

After the fires, after everyone on Piper Place was safe to move back, Darcie and Ken made a decision that they would get to know Sandy. “And actually, our minds were blown,” she says. It turns out Sandy, now 66, is a perfectly friendly lady who has lived on Piper Place since the mid ’70s. Divorced, she raised her two children alone. One daughter died after surgery five years ago. She now has a grown daugther who lives with her, along with a granddaughter.

One day Sandy let Darcie into her house. ”That this was in my neighborhood, on my street, and we never even noticed her need,” Darcie says, trailing off.

In one bathroom there was a hole in the floor, no toilet. In another bathroom, the toilet overflows. There were pipes leaking in the ceiling, black mold, no heat, two broken windows and the front door was hung upside down, on one hinge.

Darcie is part of a Thursday night fellowship group that meets behind Sandy’s house at the home of Julie and Noel Cruz. ”Can we all come together?” she asked them.

And come together they did. This weekend about 50 people are converging on Sandy’s house, carrying cans of paint and tool boxes.

"It's sort of unbelievable," Darcie says. "People used to tell stories if they saw a shadow in her house, and behind that was this very sweet lady."
Sandy chuckles at the idea. "I just tried to do things myself. I didn't want to be a bother to people, so we kind of kept to ourselves."

And now: "It is just beyond my wildest imagination," she says. "I'm just overwhelmed with all the goodness and kindness."

If you want to join the gang of people helping Sandy or donate anything, call Darcie’s daughter Stacie at 714-507-0859 or staciedthomas@yahoo.com

NOTE: Some of Darcie's neighbors and friends from a house church on her street will be painting, sanding and doing an "Extreme Home Makeover" of Sandy's house from March 20th - 22nd. For more information and to help out go HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Orange County poised to lose 43,200 jobs in 2009

February 24th, 2009, 1:30 pm
by Sarah Tully

Orange County is projected to lose about 43,200 jobs this year and employment will continue to drop in 2010, but at a slower pace, according to a new report on the economy.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. predicts a bleak situation for Southern California, including Orange County, in its 2009-2010 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook released last week.

This year's 2.9% Orange County job loss is expected to mostly be in finance and insurance, construction and retail, said the forecast. Next year, LAEDC expects Orange County to continue to bleed jobs, the employment loss will slow to 0.9% or 12,400 positions.

Orange County was hit hard by the collapse of the subprime lending industry, as well as a slowdown in tourism and the flattening of new home construction projects, said LAEDC economist Jack Kyser, who oversaw the forecast.

"That's why we're rather bearish about the economy in 2009," Kyser said.

Earlier Orange County economic forecasts ranged widely about the depth and length of the recession here:

Chapman University estimated a loss of 9,000 Orange County jobs this year in a report released in December.

"Negative forces" that will continue to be a drag on Orange County:

*A downturn in tourism.
*A loss of manufacturing jobs.
*A decline in non-residential construction.
*A decrease in new home construction permits.

LAEDC estimated the loss of nonfarm jobs should bottom out statewide by the end of 2009, dropping by about 3% for the year. The California unemployment rate could reach 10.5%.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

O.C. Home Affordabilty 9th Worst in Nation

February 23rd, 2009, 5:56 pm
by Jon Lansner/ocregister.com

An Orange County home was four times as affordable in 2008's fourth quarter as it was a year earlier — as measured by an index of the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Bank.

Still, O.C.'s "affordability" was 9th worst among 222 big U.S. communities tracked by NAHB/Wells. (We were 11th worst in the third quarter!)

Details on O.C. stats from NAHB/Wells:

Just 33.5% of the homes sold in O.C. in the fourth quarter were affordable to the typical local household. (A year ago, 8.4% of the homes were "affordable.")

A 27% price drop in O.C. homes in the past year clearly drove increased local affordability.

So did a 7% increase in local incomes, according to NAHB/Wells math.
Nationally, 62.4% of U.S. homes selling were "affordable" as 2008 ended. New York City metro area was least affordable at 14%; Indianapolis was best at 93%.

Full Article HERE