Homelessness and Health Care

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Although the tipping point is often the loss of a job, sickness or injury often precede it. Sickness and injuries make holding a job difficult, which leads to income declining and homelessness for those without a safety net. Due to the mostly employer-based health insurance coverage system in the U.S., no job means no health insurance. The combination of unemployment and poor health can then lead to financial ruin. Nerdwallet estimated that 57.1 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, making it the leading cause of the financial calamity that often precedes homelessness.

We can learn from how one doctor addressed hunger, another so-called health-related social issue or “social determinant of health.” Decades ago, Jack Geiger founded the first federally funded community-health center in the U.S. There, he began giving impoverished patients prescriptions for food using its pharmacy funds. Nervous about this practice, federal officials tried to stop him, but Geiger responded, “The last time we looked in the book, the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.”

The specific therapy for homelessness and its associated health issues is housing.

How Health and Homelessness are Connected—Medically: This doctor examines the web of medical conditions that lead to and compound homelessness, and vice versa, The Atlantic, 01/25/2016, written by Seiji Hayashi

City expands parking program for families living in their cars

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This is a good start, I suppose. It’s better than parking tickets and fines and whatnot. Yet, if the city has to set aside parking lots for homeless families with cars…how about actual housing?  Clearly, there is a need and a HUGE underlying problem.

The existing lot is operated by the nonprofit Dreams for Change at Jewish Family Service’s Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus on Balboa Avenue. The lot provides space for 40 vehicles, serving around 50 to 60 individuals nightly, with an emphasis on families.

Another 20 spaces will be added, paid for by the city and donations to JFS.

City expands parking program for families living in their cars, FOX NEWS, OCTOBER 16, 2017, BY CITY NEWS SERVICE

We Just Need Political Will

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The problem is systemic and is reaching almost epidemic proportions. Rents are soaring in every state and community at that same time when most Americans haven’t seen enough of an increase in their paychecks.

The result: more than 7 million extremely low-income families do not have an affordable place to call home and half a million people are living on the street, in shelters, or in their cars on any given night. The human toll this places on families – through stress and job loss – are extraordinary and well-documented by Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond in his recent book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

…The most shameful part is the fact that we already have the resources and solutions needed to effectively end homelessness and housing poverty for millions of families. We just need the political will to do what is right

Out of Reach 2017, National Low Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Preface by Representative Keith Ellison

Dream House

After (finally) updating my Wild Raccoon Farm blog, I started thinking about my ‘ideal home.’ The Wild Raccoon explores a form of community living that I would love to participate in, but finding an intentional community can be extremely difficult. It’s the kind of thing that potentially borders on impossible for people who don’t already have a network of friends and family who also want to live like that.

This begs the question – what else? What is the alternative near-perfect option? I’ve started a Pinterest board called Homes and Gardens, where I pin pictures of living spaces. There’s a lot of rustic cabins, Hobbit houses, fairy houses, travel trailer, stone garden sidewalks, reading nooks and similarly rustic-yet-cozy things featured there.

But designing the ‘perfect house’ requires a focus on function over design. How will the space be used? What elements are most important to the lifestyle of the owner?

Personally, I keep coming back to a very old fashioned family business and home combination. This model has become near-obsolete and zoning laws in the United States make finding, buying and maintaining the commercial/residential status difficult. Legalities aside, I just love the idea of owning a house with a storefront, running a business or office out of the store and living above or behind the shop.

Of course, there has to be a large backyard for pets, a garden and recreational activities. A little hobby farm would be even better. And then there’s those below ground homes with grass roofs, which are wonderful for both heating/cooling and extra garden space.

Interestingly enough, my dream home does not have a swimming pool. I love to swim, but every time I see a house with an in-ground pool I start wondering what it would cost to fill it in and put the land to better use. A beach, lake or swimming hole (provided by nature) are en entirely different matter.

I guess that’s what makes designing a dream home both fun and challenging – how do you incorporate everything?