Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Sacramento Homeless Emergency that Wasn't There

"The newspaper lies, the radio lies, the TV lies, the streets howl with truth." - Henry Miller

A new breakdown of Street Count, 2009, figures by the County of Sacramento Department of Human Assistance shows that fewer families with an aggregate fewer family members were on the street or in homeless shelters in 2009 than was the case in the 2008 count.

This defies the basis of the newsstorm that developed the past three month where it was believed that a huge outbreak of homeless families in Sacramento was a bellwether of the beginning of a new Great Depression in America.

The following tables show the breakdown of the new data:
2008 Households with Dependent ChildrenUnshel
tered
Emer
gency Shel
tered
Subtotal Sheltered and Unshelteredin Transitional HousingGrand Totals
Number of Households124759102161
Number of Persons
(adults and children)
33131164278442
2009 Households with Dependent ChildrenUnshel
tered
Emer
gency Shel
tered
Subtotal Sheltered and Unshelteredin Transitional HousingGrand Totals
Number of Households64147138185
Number of Persons (adults and children)16129145398543
Change in Past Year Households with Dependent ChildrenUnshel
tered
Emer
gency Shel
tered
Subtotal Sheltered and Unshelteredin Transitional HousingGrand Totals
Number of Households-6-6-12+36+24
Number of Persons
(adults and children)
-17-2-19+120+101
Note in the last table it shows that there was a DECREASE in number of families on the street or in shelters, year to year, comparing January 2008 to January 2009. Ditto, the number of homeless persons that make up families DECREASED from January 2008 to January 2009.

An overall increase in homeless families was reported, year to year, due to a substantial increase in the number of families living in transitional housing.

Thus, the great overblown emergency of the past few months has been substantially, if not totally, a journalist fraud, put out there by frantic reporters who determined what they were going to write, riding the Oprah wave, and let that overwhelm the reality they saw on the ground.

Yes, more families are displaced, according to the 2009 count as compared to 2008, but there are actually fewer among what is typically viewed as homeless people. My definition and what most people view as homelessness does not include living in transitional housing.

Indeed, the defination of a homeless person has a direct government designation, developed as part of the McKinney-Vento Act of 1987:

  • an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
  • an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is--
    • a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
    • an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
    • a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
The need for emergency funds, that was forthcoming from the City of Sacramento to aid families, was in greater need in 2008 than in 2009. Basically, the city spent a million dollars for the Emergency that Wasn't There.

However, that's not to say that spending money, EFFICIENTLY and TARGETTING THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND PROJECTS, and spending even much more than what's being spent now isn't a good, if not great, use of funds that can very effectively lessen the abundant human misery among the homeless in Sacramento.

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