9 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2015
    1. Parental Incarceration, child homelessness, and the invisible consequences of mass imprisonment

      Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, the author “investigates average and race-specific effects of paternal and maternal incarceration on the risk of child homeless (p.74).” Authors of this study use the “analytic sample,” of children who had “at least one parent complete both the 30- and 60 month interview (p.79).” Although number of observations was large (N=3,774) it only represented about 75% of the children identified in the sample. Missing data is a noteworthy limitation. The main argument author makes is that the effects of paternal and maternal incarceration have different effects on children. Families with incarcerated fathers tend to lose family finances. Due to this consequence, families lose access to institutional and informal supports. Mothers left to take care of families often suffer from depression (due to losing their partner) and their ability to take care their child(ren) suffers. Maternal incarceration, author theorizes, results in foster care or other forms of housing, but it reduces chance of child homelessness. Therefore, increase in paternal imprisonment increases child homelessness, while female imprisonment increases foster care placements (p.75). The results in the study “support the hypothesis that paternal but not maternal incarceration increases the risk of child homelessness, and show that nearly all these effects are concentrated among African American children (p.75).” According to National Center on Family Homelessness 2009, “two percent of children are now homeless annually, with rates higher in cities (p.76).” According to the research, “shifts in social policies, deindustrialization, increases in single parenthood, and the housing squeeze played a role in increasing the risk of homelessness for black children (p.76).” This article attempts to shed light on the parental incarceration and child homelessness but more research needs to be developed. Its three limitations are (1) little discussion of potential mechanisms, (2) “data used preclude controls for confounders such as prior homelessness, eviction and incarceration, (3) it doesn’t test for disparate effects by race nor takes account for whether paternal and maternal incarceration increase the risk of child homelessness. Authors offer that further research should focus on “disproportionately detrimental effects of paternal incarceration on black children (p.92).”<br> The study concludes that “results from logistic regression and propensity score models consistently indicate that recent paternal incarceration increases the risk of child homelessness; maternal incarceration, on the other hand, was never associated with a significant change in risk (p.92).” The results provide three implications in regards to the effects of mass imprisonment on social inequality; 1) paternal and maternal incarceration lead to parallel paths of marginalization; this study is the first to show paternal incarceration increases risk of child homelessness. Second, these small effects have large implications; when combined with “increases and disparity in the risk of paternal imprisonment, they imply the prison boom accounted for 65% increase in black-white inequality of child homelessness (p.92).” Finally, as children of prison boom come of age, an expectation of increasing black-white gaps in civil preparedness and political participation. Children homelessness is once again in the light, because as mentioned previously, Social Construction Framework suggests that children are low on political power and higher on deserving scale. As innocent, or unable to fend for themselves it is easy to request social attention to their needs, especially when they are exposed to homelessness without any reason of their own but because they’re born to parents who are incarcerated. The challenge lies with incarcerated parents however, since social construction and power typology chart shows criminals on low power, underserving part of the scale which in effect reflects poorly on their children. By creating a reputation for incarcerated parents; limit their employment once they’re out, access to public assistance, heavy fines to pay back, the children are exposed to a limited amount of help and therefore more exposed to homelessness.

    1. Are economically poor information poor? Does the digital divide affect the homeless and access to information?

      To begin, digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to information (“information haves”) and those who do not (information have nots). Digital divide causes great concerns regarding individual’s and family’s access to information. Much focus from the Government has been placed on providing internet to public school and libraries to limit the digital divide and provide access to digital information for all. According to the author, the literature on digital divide focuses on who has and who doesn’t have access to the Internet, as well as what libraries can do to lessen the divide. However, further research, such as addressing lack of Internet access at home, is needed to focus on digital divide specifically.<br> By gathering information through interviews and participant observation from six family shelters in Indianapolis, five in Seattle, and one family shelter in Greensboro the research focuses on how valuable and useful of an information seeking tool the Internet would be in everyday lives of homeless families This qualitative approach was “undertaken to gather data to answer research questions concerning everyday life information needs,” and “information poverty (p.242).” Twenty-five in depth interviews of homeless parents living in shelters were also conducted to answer the posed research questions. Majority of residents interviewed did not find internet as a major source of information. In fact, most reported that the most useful way to communicate was face to face and then get the information in writing. Overall the information gathered was from social service agencies and clergy, or friends and family. Even though majority of respondents lacked basic computer skills they did not think they were information poor. Most information about resources was shared informally between shelter residents, especially if person sharing did not need that resource for themselves. According to the article, because resources are limited and non-profits fear being overrun with those in need, they keep a lot of their information off the web. Even social service agents found some resource information from other staff members as opposed to online. The study explains six propositions introduced by Chatman’s (1996) research on information insiders and outsiders. Information insiders are those who have been homeless before and understand how to navigate the system, information outsiders are those who are first time homeless. Based on the research, six propositions were suggested as to why people fail to gather information. Proposition 1: Lack of resources rather than lack of information was the issue. Proposition 2: information poverty is partially associated with class distinction and outsiders withhold privileged access to information. Proposition 3: Self-protective behavior affects the information shared. Not everyone wants to share their personal info with resource staff or with other residents. Proposition 4: Secrecy and deception as part of self-protecting can affect information sharing especially with those providing resources. Deception was common when trying to gain access to resources for which informant may not be eligible.

      Proposition 5: At times, individuals are more likely to share personal information such as substance abuse or domestic with resource providers because the need for resource assistance outweighed the concern over possible negative consequences (p.246).

      Proposition 6: New knowledge will be selectively introduced into the information world of poor people. Shelter residents were more likely to say they are suffering from information overload than lack of information. The study explains that these findings are limited and not generalizable but can be transferable. Further research is needed to determine if shelters provide information access and if they do not, why not. The homeless lack sufficient economic resources such as stable housing but they do not feel that they lack information or access to information. In fact, most feel that they receive more information than necessary and are “tired of people thinking just because we’re poor we ain’t got nothing (p.247).” It will be interesting to see how digital divide and information access changes as new generations, such as children of parents interviewed emerge into more Internet dependent society. For now, the lack of access to digital information does not seem to negatively affect the everyday life of homeless parents. Surprisingly this paper was written in 2013 so a lot more emphasis on Internet would’ve been expected. As the information states, Government has already attempted to address the digital divide by providing Internet access as publicly as possible. The other issue is that some information is withheld from the web due to large need that agencies cannot fulfill. Social Construction Theory indicates that homeless are considered deserving part of the population so these services are provided to them, especially families seeking basic needs such as housing, employment and health resources. There are Government agencies in place that address these needs but not nearly at capacities at which the need exists. Clearly we see the complexity of Social Construction Theory; since homeless are low on power scale, and borderline between deserving and undeserving it’ difficult to provide for them but also as difficult not to provide for them.

    1. Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness

      National reports indicate that number of families with children experiencing homelessness is rising across urban, rural and suburban area. These families, study suggests, are “disporportionatly more likely to have exierpence economic, health and social risk factors. These influences, and those impacted by being in homeless environment influence the parent-child relationship which affects the development of children in these situations. This article review the literature on determinants and contextual issues of parent in shelter, describes specific programs that are focused on positive parenting and provides recommendations for supporting positive parenting among families living without their own homes. The study argues that the parent child relations is affected by stressful events in parent’s life or overall family environment. The shelter environment and staff that intervenes in these parent’s parenting also impacts child parent relationship and parent’s confidence. Based on research parents in shelters and transitional housing state that they felt like they were parenting in public and this affected their parenting enormously. In return, children who lack child parent relationship are more likely to experience behavioral, developmental, educational challenges. Overall, parents (families) who enter shelters more than likely have already experience chronic neighborhood violence and domestic violence, among other stressors which impede their ability to focus on parenting. According to the article, parenting difficulties can intensify for parents in homelessness to the point of abuse and neglect, which in turn, exposes kids to foster care system. Programs such as Family Care Curriculum, Parenting Through Change and Psychological First Aid, are all parenting programs designed for families experiencing homelessness. Parenting Through Changes offers “14-week, 90 minute per session group format emphasizing active learning and role play to acquire positive parenting (p.405).” Family Care Curriculum is a “6 week program that meets one per week for 60 minutes and aims to change parenting beliefs and attitudes through the development of reflective capacities (p.406).” Psychological First Aid (PFA) is “a brief evidence-informed intervention that was original developed to offer psychological support and stabilization to individuals and families following natural disasters and trauma (p.406).” The PFA has been proved successful, use nationally and internationally and has been translated into several languages. All three of these programs focus on helping families cope with homelessness and help parents build positive parenting. The article calls for acknowledgement among service providers and shelters for addressing differences among families and their needs. That different approaches must take place and services utilizing which will nourish parent child relationships. Organizations need to collaborate more, especially because funding is a huge concern. Policies such as Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH 2011) needs to focus on families. Overall, we need to remove the “assumption that homelessness is simply a matter of housing,” and understand that “…many families experiencing homelessness are facing a complex array of risk factors that go beyond housing alone (p.409)” The article, just like the Social Construction Theory suggests that “children have fundamental right to thrive in health, safe families and communities… (p.410)” There is an emphasis on what is deserved and factors affecting child-parent relationships are geared more towards the external reasons than simply blaming the parent or child. It is important that the tone of article addresses limitations in research and progress, identifies what has been done and the fact that there is much more needed. In this situation families, especially children, are high on deserving scale and requiring services and focus on them, is not only easy but most appropriate.

  2. Oct 2015
    1. “Homelessness has continues to be a major social problem in the United States, especially among people with psychiatric and substance use disorders,” state authors of the study (p.412). During the 1990’s, public health and policy focused on providing emergency shelter to individuals, now the emphasis has turned towards providing more permanent, supportive housing as a means of solving homelessness. Most recently, attention has focused on highlighting “social reintegration and primary prevention of homelessness” before it occurs (p.412). The special concern about homelessness among military veterans is due in part because they’re “deserving of special protection because of their national service (p.412).” The study focuses on a national sample of Veterans that are homeless and non-homeless and are currently receiving mental health services through Veteran Affairs (VA). Authors used VA administrative data from fiscal year 2009 to conducted case-control study of all veterans who used VA mental health specialty services in 2009. Homeless veterans were designed as those who a) used specialized VA homeless program services and/or lacked housing during 2009. Control population included 1,011,368 veterans who utilized specialty mental health services during FY2009 but did not received VA homeless services. Demographic characteristics included gender, age, ethnicity, race, geographic location, and income. The study concluded that “substances use disorders (particularly illicit drugs use disorders) were the single strongest predictor of homelessness in this national sample of FY2009 VA mental health users (p.415).” The study suggested that VA homelessness prevention efforts should focus on treatment of veterans with substance use disorders as well as on their housing risk. In the past Veterans did not utilize substance treatment services but we see that has changed by 2009. The study proposes that “[a]ccess to effective substance use treatment may facilitate a reduction in homelessness among veterans and should remain a focus of prevention efforts in the future (p.416).” The results also suggest that service connected disability benefits reduce the risk of becoming homeless. This is why, the study recommends that offering social service programs, such as HUD VA Support Housing may provide most effective approach to homeless prevention because it ties the individual to Veteran Affairs and housing. I continue to tie Social Construction Theory to the homelessness and housing issues, I suggest the same in this case. In fact, the article itself states that, veterans are deserving of special protection because of their national service. We see this population, returning from the recent wars in the Middle East as deserving due to their service and their health conditions. According to the social construction and power typology chart, military is viewed as positive and deserving with higher power. This group deserves the benefits and respect due to their selfless contributions to safety and protection of our entire country. Providing benefits to such advantaged group generates political capital among policy makers and it’s almost a no brainer when it comes to making the decision to pass a policy or address the issue of homeless among this highly deserving population.

    1. Ellen Bassuk writes this article with intention to bring more focus on homelessness among families, specifically children, and discusses the consequences and side effects homeless children face. The article states that a lot of previous studies investigated impact of homelessness by comparing homeless children with those of their low income counterparts, however this does not create responsive solutions. Through research we are aware that homeless children are faced with greater challenges than those with housing. Overall, children in homelessness experience health and well-being insufficiency; their parent(s) (usually single mothers) are unable to care for them, the trauma of homelessness disables them to be caretaker the child needs and creates limitations in child’s development. Mobility, which is inevitable among homeless who are constantly seeking place to live, affects children’s performance in school, social interactions and psyche. Article states that, “poverty and traumatic stress can results in poor mental health, behavioral problems, developmental milestones, emotional dysregulation, attachment disorders, anxiety and depression.”

      According to the data collected by 12,550 Local Education Agencies, approximately 1.5 million children experience homelessness in American each year, yet, most federal policy has focused on chronically homeless individuals and introduced the Housing First model to address homelessness among individuals.

      The Interagency Council on Homelessness issued “Opening Doors – the first ever comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in America” in 2009. By the interagency collaboration the “key focus and goal is to prevent and end homeless for families, youth and children within 10 years.” More focus is faced on rapid rehousing to assist individuals rather than continue support of shelters. Article explains that programs and policies need to provide services for the whole family – including children. BSAFE, for example, is a program developed to identify family member’s needs and provide referrals to community support and services.

      In order for the Campaign to End Child Homelessness to be successful however, mobilization of political will at the national, state and local levels will be required along with the implementation of effective interventions. So far the campaign has been gaining momentum; collation of providers, consumers, advocates, and policy makers is forming to identify needs and solutions for ending family homelessness.

      “The failure to house one child for even one night in our nation represents an unacceptable societal failing,” concludes the article, than adds; “[A]ll that is required is the public will to end this national tragedy.”

      The article acknowledges the shortcomings in addressing family homelessness and explains certain federal policies that have attempted to address these concerns. The conclusion of the article places a heavy responsibility on public will to solve and eradicate homelessness which indicates that The Social Construction Theory is challenged. As article states, over a decade has been dedicated to Housing First model, which provides housing for chronically homeless, yet homeless families have been excluded from this model. Per Social Construction Theory, homeless children especially, were considered the most deserving, this article is attempting to bring that notion back. It acknowledges that there was a shift in social construction and it’s affecting homeless children and families greatly.

    1. Similar to what we see in Clark County WA, Boston, Massachusetts is faced with a housing problem where low income housing is scarce and rents are skyrocketing. A case control study of 49 homeless, female headed families and 81 house female-headed families in Boston attempted to reveal “Why Does Family Homelessness Occur?” Sample was collected from local shelters in Boston where homeless families stayed between April and July 1985. Housed families sample was collected via 1980 census. Both homeless and housed families had a choice of participating and were given monetary compensation for their time. Data was collected by personal interview of the mothers and children by a psychiatrist or psychologist. The comparison of homeless and housed mothers revealed important similarities and differences. In both groups, mothers were poor, currently single, had little work experience and relied on public assistance. Additionally both groups reported experiencing a major family disruption during childhood. Many of their children had serious developmental and emotional problems and showed poor performance in school. Additionally, children in homeless families were more likely to be abused or neglected. The homeless mothers had weaker support systems, which more likely consisted of men. They were also much frequently abused as children, and had been more frequently battered as adults. A greater proportion of homeless women had substance abuse or psychiatric problems than housed women did. The study states that family’s support network plays an important role and determines whether a family will need shelter or be able to find housing with friends or family. The fact that homeless mothers had experienced greater family violence as children could also explain, in part, their difficult to form and maintain supportive relationships as adults. Most importantly, this study notes that homeless mothers were less likely to have grown up on welfare than the housed mothers.<br> Although there are limitations that must be noted, the study makes valuable points as well. Data for housed women was collected during daylight, which could have limited the sample to non-working mothers only. The interview setting was different for homeless and housed mothers, and the psychiatrists conducting the interviews had knowledge of which individuals belong to which group. Again, I use the Social Construction and Typology Power as a discussion point for the study above. Homeless mothers more frequently experience abuse and family violence, their children have experienced neglect and show poor performance in school, and although Social Construction Theory suggests that they are “dependents” and deserving in terms of sympathy and pity, they still account for one third of the estimated homeless population of 2.5 million people nationwide. They are also the fastest growing subgroup according to the study. If it was the case that this specific group: homeless mothers with children, were in fact deserving, than we should be seeing a decrease in their numbers.

    1. Housing First program, a nationwide effort to address chronic homelessness encourages the notion that providing housing to individuals, without putting limitations on them, will further enable their transition from homelessness and will decrease the use and cost of public services such as hospitals, shelters and jails. This study specifically focuses on chronically homeless individuals with severe alcohol problems and the effects of Housing First on their lifestyle. One large concerns of chronically homeless, is the high public system costs because chronically homeless use local crisis services at high levels. When considering alcoholism, substances abuse and mental illness these costs increase. According to the website, a study of “Quasi-experimental design comparing 95 housed participants (with drinking permitted) with 39 wait-list control participants enrolled between November 2005 and March 2007 in Seattle, Washington.” Participants with the highest total cost in 2004 were selected from a rank ordered list of chronically homeless with alcohol related hospital emergency stays to move into Eastlake, a Housing First apartment building in Seattle, the additional individuals were waitlisted as control group. According to the study, Participants received $5 for attending the study introduction and $20 for each interview. Participants were interviewed at baseline and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after enrollment. In addition, researchers collected data from variety of public agencies such as Department of Health and Human Services, Harborview Medical Center (HMC), King County Correctional Facility, Public Health–Seattle & King County, and Downtown Emergency Service Center. The results indicated that those who stayed at Eastlake showed decreases in cost over time. Prior to acceptance their cost was $4066 per person, per month. After six months of living in housing, it decreased to $1492 per person, and finally down to $958 after 12 months in a Housing First program. Although limitations in study are present, the study was able to conclude that the overall cost does in public burden goes down and that “[h]ousing First is associated with improvements in the life circumstances and drinking behaviors of this chronically homeless population while reducing their use of expensive health and criminal justice services.”

      On a comparison level, this study encompasses very small portion of homeless population and housing issues. These specific individuals are not able to retain temporary or permanent housing unless they are going through a Housing First model, because both temporary and permanent housing requires abstinence from substances. We learn in the Social Construction Theory that homeless are least deserving and are considered deviants. The society views them as a burden, yet in order to cope with being homeless they resort to substance abuse or have severe mental illness problems and their behavior is constantly criminalized preventing them from ever finding permanent housing. In a sense this is a psychological approach to serving chronically homeless; by providing them a home, a place to stay, they will be able to put energy towards bettering their lives by meeting with case managers and going through treatment.

  3. Sep 2015
    1. Following up on previously posted annotation regarding camping ordinances in Vancouver, WA I learned that the Council will allow overnight camping in public places. As mentioned previously, all laws in regards to park closures, public behavior will still apply and can cause arrests. Vancouver city's legal council pushed for the ordinance in response to the recent case in Boise, ID and in response to Department of Justice opinion. In order to avoid legal repercussions, and because going against Department of Justice would not bring victory, the city approved the ordinance. There is a huge problem with homeless in the Clark County, the lack of shelter and influx of homeless is a problem that this ordinance is nowhere near to fix. According to Andy Silver, of 823 different people that calling seeking emergency shelter, 722 (88%) were told no because of lack of space. Silver states that "this is a step in the right direction," but not "the end of the road." Criminalizing homelessness does not prevent or solve the homeless issues. It further disables people from finding a home. As Katherine Garrett, director of Share House explained, "in th eyes of the landlords, people who have three camping violations on their record might as well have a felony." The Vancouver Police Department will not be doing "sweeps" of homeless camps but would continue to respond to neighbors complaints regarding illegal activity. Police Chief James McElvain said that the police won't "immediately cite" someone and that "their priority starts with crimes against persons and then crimes against property." There is a lot of hype around homelessness and issues revolving housing of people in Clark County. This camping ordinance is a very minor step that will ease some issues but will not come close to eliminating the serious lack of shelter and permanent housing. It's good to see progress so close to home, but social construction theory teaches us that homeless are considered deviants and deviants don't deserve nearly as much as resources. Perhaps, small improvements such as these can change the minds of communities and create homes for many.

    1. Vancouver, WA near Portland, OR has seen an increase in homeless tents and tarps, especially near the Share House shelter in the downtown area. Katherine Garrett, shelter's director who's been working with homeless since 2001 says she's "never seen this much open camping before." Since the late 1990's people have been banned from camping outside in public places, making it a misdemeanor. Now, a proposed ordinance would allow people to camp out legally from 9:30 PM - 6:30 AM. Vancouver Police was barely enforcing this ban as is, about 9 citations a month. After the U.S Justice Department put out a statement of interest on Aug. 6th saying Government can't ban people from sleeping outside, the Vancouver P.D has ceased citing people altogether. The U.S Justice Dept. says that it is unconstitutional and it “just keeps ‘em homeless” as it impedes on their ability to find jobs and housing with criminal record. Police Chief James McElvain told KATU that police will still crack down on other behaviors; drinking in public, fighting, blocking sidewalks etc.” Kevin Lisman, a homeless man since March, told KATU that he wishes people “would be more sympathetic.” Tristia Bauman, senior attorney for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington D.C., said; “We are pleased that cities are paying attention to what the Justice Department has said, and that they are revising their criminalization policies.” However, Vancouver would still need to catch up to some other cities implementing constructive policy that federal government is promoting. There should be more focus on “providing permanent housing to homeless people.”<br> The proposed ordinance for allowing outside camping between 9:30PM-6:30AM will be going up before the City this Monday, September 21.