How Homelessness Affects Children

How Homelessness Affects Children

Millions of children experience homelessness every year. According to the National Mental Health Association, on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless. These numbers are just astounding to me.

The experience of homelessness affects the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development of children. On the average, manyhomeless children have attended two or more schools in a one-year period. Almost half of homeless children have anxiety, depression, or withdrawal. More than one in three homeless children manifest delinquent and aggressive behavior. Homeless children tend to have very low self-esteem. Often, they don’t have adequate food or nutrition, reliable transportation, necessary immunizations or immunization records, appropriate clothing, or school supplies. Many children who grow up homeless are likely to repeat the lifestyle with their own children.

Statistics show that every two minutes a child becomes homeless in America. No child should have to live in a shelter. They fear their friends will find out they are in a shelter and treat them differently. Some have a difficult time in school because of housing instability.

Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services (CHASS) operates a 15-bed homeless family shelter in Culpeper, VA. Not only do we provide emergency shelter, but we help the literally homeless individuals and families find and move into permanent stable housing thru our Rapid Re-housing Program. Our goal is to get them from shelter to housing in 30 days or less. This is not always possible, but it is our goal.

I would like to share part of a letter I received from a client recently. She is a single mother with four children. She came to CHASS homeless with nowhere to go. We were able to put her and her children into housing where they have since thrived. The children are honor students and have won many awards at school. The mom still struggles every month with bills as she can never be sure of her child support, yet she works two jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over her family’s head.

“As their mother I am over the moon but the key to our family and its success has been this home!! Being stable and safe are two of the most important gifts I can provide for my family. CHASS has changed our lives forever. I am thankful EVERYDAY for this home!! Without the support and amazing staff of CHASS I don’t know where we would be! Thank each and everyone of you! You change lives, you give hope and I will always be FOREVER Grateful. Thank you”

Another mother wrote:

“Stability is one the most important gifts you can give your child- everything begins at home. CHASS has afforded my family the stability to succeed. They provide more than housing – open hearts, listening ears, and a sense of hope. The people they assist and the positive changes they make in lives is a true blessing. This program was a life saver for me and my family. Culpeper is certainly a better place with the services CHASS provides.”

Cheryl S. Carter, Executive Director – CHASS CHASS is part of the Foothills Housing Network that provides shelter and housing services to those in need in Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Orange, and Madison counties.

Image by: namo deet

Shared Housing – A Solution to Homelessness

Shared Housing – A Solution to Homelessness

Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services (CHASS) operates a 15 bed emergency homeless shelter in Culpeper, VA. One of our biggest challenges is finding affordable housing for the homeless, particularly singles with very limited income (i.e. minimum wage, disability or social security as their only form of income).

Statistics have shown that close to 50% of the homeless in the United States are single adults. Many of these people are seniors with a very limited income. The fair market rent for even a one bedroom apartment is more than their income can sustain. Basic minimum wage and disability income is not enough for one person to afford even the cheapest housing unit.

At CHASS, we have discovered that finding shared housing units can benefit the landlord/homeowner as well as a homeless individual with access to affordable housing and mutual support. Tight rental markets and limited assistance programs create scarce housing choices for low-income residents of all ages. Shared housing can offer housing for half the cost of a private apartment.

Many homeowners have extra rooms in their home and could also use some additional income. By renting out a room to someone in need it becomes a win-win solution. The homeowner is able to make some additional monthly income to help pay their mortgage and a homeless individual is able to find safe, affordable housing. Many times the tenant is able to help with chores that need to be done in the home.

The tenant has a separate lease agreement with the landlord. Monthly rent usually includes all utilities, cable and internet. Tenants have their own room and share common areas. Since this is the landlord’s home -he/she can spell out certain expectations, responsibilities, etc. in the lease agreement. Before signing the tenant needs to make sure they understand their roles and responsibilities.

CHASS can help with the security deposit and first month’s rent thru our Rapid Re-housing Program. We require at least a six month lease or preferably a yearly lease. We do an inspection of the property before the tenant moves in. We also will provide monthly case management with the client and budget counseling if needed as long as the case is open with CHASS. We have found that shared housing has helped in several ways:

  1. It is more affordable and flexible.
  2. Landlords seem to be more lenient and most landlord responses are positive.
  3. It is financially appealing to landlords.
  4. It is a step up to a homeless individual’s living situation.
  5. Housing is more sustainable for the client

Shared housing will not work for everyone, but it is better than long shelter stays and it can be a stepping stone while someone is waiting for their income to increase. With shared housing we are empowering our clients not enabling them. Every person deserves and needs to have a place to call home.

If you are a homeowner and might be interested in renting a room to someone less fortunate please contact us. For more information please contact: Cheryl Carter, Executive Director, Culpeper Housing and Shelter Services, 602 S. Main Street, Suite 3, Culpeper, VA 22701, 540-825-7434.

Image Credit: “Ma maison: la chambre”by Valérie Brillant-Blais is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Living Life to the Fullest

Living Life to the Fullest

Recently I have been made aware of just how short life can be and the importance of living life to the fullest. As the years go by, the more you realize that happiness takes work. At times it takes strength and courage to smile through the tears. It’s so easy to look at people who are happy and feel they don’t understand the pain you are going through. People who can smile and put on that happy face have been through as much as people who cry, scream and frown.

I lost a dear friend to cancer last week and regret not spending more time with her or calling her more often. Yesterday I found out some friends at church faced the tragedy of losing their precious four-year-old son. I can’t even imagine the heartache this family is going through. At work my very dear friend’s and co-worker’s sister is battling stage IV cancer. The hurt and uncertainty I see her and her family facing every day breaks my heart.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible says, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:8.

There are certain things you need to do to live life to the fullest. One of my biggest is put God first. Only He knows when we are to be born and when we will die. Next on my list is “Tell people you love them.” That could be a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, relative or friend. Everyone can truly appreciate hearing that you love them. At times it can brighten their day. Next, do something good for someone else. Don’t just say I wish I could help. Do something about it. Often, we see homeless people on the street. Have you ever thought if you gave that person $1 every day that you would only be $365 in an entire year? It doesn’t take a lot. Sometimes we are so absorbed with what we have and what we want that we forget about those in need.

Next on my list is to live in the present. You can think about your past and your future, but you need to live in the present. Your past is to learn from and your future is something to work towards, but what exists now is the present. Don’t compromise your values is another thing of great importance to me. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Trust your instincts. Your ethics don’t need to be compromised. Whatever you do always be able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of the person you are.

In life you sometimes must take risks – sometimes a lot of them. Every reward in life carries a risk with it. When you look back on your life, don’t regret the chances that you didn’t take. If you don’t take some risks, you will never get anywhere. Always keep an open mind, but be willing to listen. You may think you are right, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to look at a situation.

Find time to spend with others. People have no time anymore to call their family and friends and to spend time with them, but can waste hours of their valuable time online – on Facebook, playing games, checking messages. I once read a quote that said, “It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.”

These are just a few of the things on my list. I am sure I could name many more. Going forward cherish your loved ones, hug your child a little tighter and a little longer. Take time for those that really matter. Life is too short and none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Cheryl S. Carter regularly writes on a variety of topics for the community. This article was originally published by the Culpeper Star Exponent on 1/21/18.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash