Advocating for the working poor and affordable housing.
Championing homeless families in NH.
Fighting poverty and its stigma across America.
I have lived in a tarp tent, I have lived in my car, I have lived at a campground, and I have lived in transitional housing. By far the least traumatic was my stay in a transitional housing shelter.
Transitional Housing for Homeless Families
My stay in transitional housing was a gift in a time of desperation.
Before I learned about the local program, the best prospect for my family of six was sleeping in our car, in February. Our landlord was foreclosed on and the flippers who bought it evicted us. It’s so difficult to express in words the anxiety and desperation that settles in when you know you have no home.
Many people live one paycheck or unlucky event away from homelessness, and we were one of the many. We live on social security disability and had no cushion to fall back on, no support network who could help.
Isn’t it a terrible thing when a mother can do everything she can, and still it’s not enough? A local charity stepped in. We were provided with shelter and many services and resources to help us.
Our struggles make us no less a family, no less worthy of permanence. (Tweet) When you are cold, hungry, sick, or tired, you can’t focus. The shelter allowed me the opportunity to concentrate on my family and my finances in a time of crisis, instead of panicking about our basic needs.
We stayed with the program through the summer, and at the end of our stay had enough money for a new place, and some life coaching and financial tips to depend on. We have moved to a nice home, with my children happy in school. Keeping families in the area, and the children in their schools, is so essential.
Providing stability while we regained our balance was a blessing beyond words.
Do you know what homeless kids look like? They aren’t all pushing shopping carts around under bridges, they look just like your kids. (Tweet) In fact, odds are very good there are kids at your child’s school, right at this very moment, who are homeless. This picture was taken in the parking lot of the transitional housing shelter. Homelessness isn’t just a problem for the cities, only affecting vets or drug addicts or those with mental issues. Homelessness is a complicated issue with a wide variety of people facing this problem.
Housing is out of reach.
You can drill down at the National Housing and Low Income Coalition to see how much you have to make in your state to afford rent.
Like New Hampshire’s $20.50/hour for a two bedroom, or 89 hours per week at minimum wage for a one bedroom! (Full-time work is 40 hours, BTW, so two people working full time IS NOT ENOUGH, and you don’t have room for any children.)
Is it any wonder then, that we have whole families who end up homeless?
Where do those families go, who had that one unlucky event happen that caused the whole deck of cards to come crashing down? If they’re lucky, they go to transitional housing instead of living in their car. This is where they have a warm place to stay, and their kids can stay in their school. These charities provide stability for families in a time when basic needs cannot be met.
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Homelessness Facts in New Hampshire
Here are some stats for you from my pastoral state. Many people think of church steeples and fall foliage when they think of NH, not homeless people. But they’re here, in every area. With the lack of affordable housing they can’t help but be everywhere, and there is a large portion of the population who is constantly one bad day away from joining them.
- The number of persons in families experiencing homelessness rose by eight percent over the last year, from 704 people in 2014 to 760 people in 2015. (1)
- Median gross rents rose at twice the pace of median household renter incomes, narrowing an already scarce market of affordable housing.(8)
- Vacancy rates are decreasing to alarmingly low levels across New Hampshire, with the state vacancy average falling from 2.5 percent in 2014 to 2.2 percent in 2015. A healthy vacancy rate is normally around five percent. (8)
- Nearly half of persons experiencing homelessness are families with children (760 people in 277 households). (8)
- The number of people living in temporary shelters has increased over the past year by nine percent. (8)
- The number of homeless persons in families has begun to rise again, increasing by about eight percent from 2014 to 2015. (8)
- In 2015, the number of persons in families contributed to nearly half of the overall homeless population. (8)
- The number of people in families experiencing homelessness rose by about eight percent from 2014 to 2015, the first time this population has increased since 2011. (8)
- People who are living below the poverty line are often one unexpected financial, medical or social event away from falling into homelessness. (8)
- Nearly nine percent of New Hampshire’s population is considered to be living at or below the poverty level, an increase of about nine percent since 2011. (8)
- Statewide median renter incomes have increased by about two and a half percent in 2015. At the same time, however, recent data show a substantially larger increase in median rents across the state of about seven and a half percent. (8)
- Statewide, the average real income of working poor people was $9,201 in 2013. The monthly median gross rent in NH for a 2-bedroom unit was $1,076 in 2013 and is $1,157 in 2015. (8)
- 73.86% of rental households are severely housing cost burdened – below the federal poverty line and spending more than 50 percent of its income on rent and basic utilities (e.g. heat, electricity and water). (8)
- The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Hillsborough County is $1,219 per month according to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. (1)
- The vacancy rate of rentals in NH in 2015 is 2.8%, and two bedroom units are even more scarce. (2)
- In 2014, 4,760 people in NH were sheltered in state-funded programs. Included in this number were 689 families, including 902 children. This does not include people who are homeless but not in state-funded shelters: housed by private charity programs, living with family or friends, or living in their cars. (3)
- In 2014 there were 2,210 homeless individuals across the state on any given day. Of that number 358 were families. (4)
- Approximately 55,000 of NH renters pay more than 30% of their income for housing, with more than 50% of those paying more than 50% of income toward housing costs. (5)
- The minimum wage required to rent a two bedroom in NH is $20.50. (6)
- Families with children comprise 43 percent of the overall homeless population (a total of 704 people, composing 258 households). (7)
*They just did the point-in-time count for 2016 in January, which is why many of these stats compare 2014 to 2015. They are still compiling the new data. Also, these statistics are taken during one day in January. My family of six wasn’t even counted in these statistics, because we found a home before another winter came.
1. New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority Rent Survey 2015
2. New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority Rent Survey 2015
3. Homelessness in New Hampshire, a Report by the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services 2014 p. 2
4. Homelessness in New Hampshire, a Report by the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services 2014 p. 2
5. NH Center for Public Policy, Big Houses Small Households, presentation to NHHFA Policy Advisory Group 2014
6. Out of Reach 2015 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition 2015
7. NH Coalition to End Homelessness The State of Homelessness in New Hampshire 2014
8. NH Coalition to End Homelessness The State of Homelessness in New Hampshire 2015
Local charities you can feel free to throw gobs of money at:
Hundred Nights homeless shelter Keene NH
Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter shelter for families
Shelter From the Storm shelter for families
(Tweet: Homelessness stinks. http://goo.gl/bX6GTO @MoreWithLessMom)
A person is a person, no matter where they live.
(Tweet: A person is a person, no matter where they live. #actofkindness http://goo.gl/HNzQBJ @MoreWithLessMom)
Situation is not character
(Tweet: Situation is not character. #gratitude http://goo.gl/HNzQBJ @MoreWithLessMom)
There is no uniform for the homeless. Their plumage is the same as yours.
(Tweet: There is no uniform for the homeless. Their plumage is the same as yours. #homelessnessstinks http://goo.gl/HNzQBJ @MoreWithLessMom)
Normal, educated, perfectly nice people can be poor, too.
(Tweet: Normal, educated, perfectly nice people can be poor, too. http://goo.gl/HNzQBJ #homelessnessstinks @MoreWithLessMom)
Our struggles make us no less a family, no less worthy of permanence.
(Tweet: Our struggles make us no less a family, no less worthy of permanence. http://goo.gl/bX6GTO #homelessnessstinks @MoreWithLessMom)
Do you know what homeless kids look like? They aren’t all pushing shopping carts around under bridges, they look just like your kids.
(Tweet: Do you know what homeless kids look like? They aren’t pushing shopping carts around under bridges, they look just like your kids. http://goo.gl/bX6GTO)
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