This is a huge book in the style of a coffee table book from the 1970s. Every page has some wonderful charts or graphs. For policy wonks this book is not to miss. There is a page dedicated to each state with statistics on the major cities within those states. These stats are based on flawed Annual counts, which dramatically undercounts families. (We will print in the next Street Newspaper). The annual count gives a good overview of homelessness demographics and can provide some interesting comparisons. They are not accurate, but they are interesting comparisons. For example, there is no way that there are more families in Hamilton County then there are in Cuyahoga County, but that is what the stats say. This is a reflection of the number of shelter beds counted in Cincinnati compared to Cleveland, but it has no greater meaning. Not all of our family shelters report their numbers while every shelter reports in Hamilton County.
The other nice aspect of this Almanac is that they go through issues that are impacting family homelessness in America. They discuss causes of family homelessness, foreclosures, and family homeless sub populations. They go into great detail about the unfortunate destruction of transitional shelters in America. They look at homeless youth, Head Start, Food stamps, and Social Security Disability. The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness looks at minorities and homelessness, those who live in rural communities, and federal aid for homeless students. You can read the almanac directly from their website, but it does not do it justice until you see it. I would recommend policy agencies purchasing a copy of the book.
The final section has a brief look at positive programs that are making a difference in the United States to improve the lives of homeless families. There are no programs mentioned in Ohio which is unfortunate, but there are some interesting ideas. There are some clunkers in the list like the Denver Donation Meter Program which we are never big on programs that single out one population (panhandlers) for shame and derision. While others seem interesting like the Minneapolis Family Housing Fund that has built 26,000 units of affordable housing or the Chicago Hopes program to engage homeless children in enrichment activities while in the shelters.
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