Written by: Kendra Cain, Peter Czechut-Hoffman, Miranda Mittan, Ashlee Rowe
Lack of accessibility to resources restricts homeless individual’s ability to engage in upward mobility. Accessing resources for the homeless community is a problem in the Omaha Metro area. This study will utilize information gathered from pamphlets distributed by churches, emergency shelters, medical centers, educational institutions, and legal services. With this data, we will identify different resources available to the homeless community in Omaha and identify the gaps in the services available.
To obtain the information the group was given the assignment to gather pamphlets from any place that assists low income families as well as individuals with mental disabilities. The information was then presented during the class meeting. The finding concluded that there is an abundance of help in the metro area. Many secondary sources came from Lutheran Family Services, The Sienna Francis House, and Community Alliances.
After gathering information, research was conducted using the pamphlets. Four major themes are: disorder, education, class, and resources. Within each theme there were about five subtopics that were similar. Coding and memos were created utilizing information related to the themes. Memos are an outline of the views presented in the research. Coding was actually going in and describing the sources and the information using the pamphlets. Writing the paper was the next step of the project.
The homeless population struggles with various issues including physical and mental illnesses. Trying to gain shelter as well as treat the illness, is a financial obstacle they face daily. Homeless population has a higher domestic as well as sexual abuse rate. Many of them are homeless because they are running away from those issues. The following resources related the most to disorders and took up a huge portion of the sources: Community Alliances, Lutheran Family services, Orr Psychotherapy, and Safe Harbor.
The organizations pamphlets felt welcoming and aimed towards the people that did not know what to do next. In one of the pamphlets people are smiling, these people have possibly gone through these programs. They also look to be between the age of 19 and 40 roughly. One of these programs was only for people between 18 and 21. The information from the secondary source was very vital to our topic. It was very in-depth and answered any questions someone would have about the services. Another characteristic of the pamphlets was that they were all very colorful and easy to read. The last thing we noticed is that the Community Alliance organization promotes their social media accounts to educate people on what they offer and how to obtain the services.
In the Community Alliance pamphlets, we found that many women struggle with mental illnesses over men. The homeless community has many different mental illness services throughout the metro area including Safe Harbor, The Road to Hope and Assertive Community Treatment. The group was not aware of these services prior to the project, before many of us thought that resources were limited in the metropolitan community. The mentally disabled community is also very hard to fund, a few pamphlets had opportunities to donate to their organizations. Their goals included diagnosing the illness, managing the illness and being able to enjoy live with the illness. The organization stresses that each person has their own end result in recovery. Safe harbor, one of their services, offers 24-hour care and peer support. Overall Community Alliance is an important, and informative service. Our next major finding in the disorders theme was abuse within the homeless population.
Abuse is a concerning issue in children ages 2-18 and Lutheran Family services offers therapy and treatment programs that help them cope with sexual abuse specifically. The groups are separated into three subcategories; children’s group, preadolescent, and adolescent and they must participate at least once a week by themselves. The service is insurance based, depending on what your deductible is depends on how much you pay out of pocket. The problem with that is that the homeless population would not have insurance so they wouldn’t be able to afford this service. However, the fee can be waived if the participate can prove a low income. Lutheran family services offer classes for offenders as well. The church service also offers therapy for mothers and men who are struggling with different abuses including domestic abuse, substance abuse and physical abuse. These services are offered are performed by trained professionals. If you are not a trained professional but would like to run a class, you can obtain the necessary training. Sexual abuse was a main theme of the Lutheran family services pamphlets.
Orr Psychotherapy is another secondary source we discovered. It is a therapeutic service for women who struggle with domestic abuse. It offers support on how to cope with violence without using violence for women who might be the batterer. Another part of the service is to recognize that what is happening is not their fault and that they are being abused. The last portion is to recognize that women have the right to defend themselves and challenge them to find other ways to deal with violence. The price of the classes are $25 a class which might be a problem for people who are not financially stable, or do not hold the income in the household. There is one location in Lincoln otherwise people can call their hotline or office phone during open hours. Discovering this was a shock because Lincoln is not very close so if a battered wife was trying to get attend classes she would be spending a lot of time and money. There was only one pamphlet regarding this source.
Safe Harbor was a service that Community Alliances offered but was useful to the issue of disorders. This is a peer ran group, so it would be people that have gone through the program helping you. It is open 24hrs a day 365 days a year to contact them you call the “Warm Line Service,” it’s similar to a hotline and people listen to your problems and give you other resources that can help. It is located in Southern Omaha in the Annex building. This diversion program helps many people daily and is for anyone that needs someone to talk to.
In our scholarly sources, we found that compared to Omaha resources other cities have been known to have similar programs as well as cheaper programs when it comes to disability and abuse. The Orr Psychotherapy program was similar to a program created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They created a project called the community living room where women who were homeless or had mental health concerns could go. It was considered a “drop-in” program because you could come and go as you please. Similar to the Orr Psychotherapy program, they had intervention programs and mentoring as well as therapy (Ponce, 2014). A study was created at this center where they took a total of 343 women, more than half being black, 37% white and the rest of the other ethnicities. The study examined the client’s engagement and outcome reports over a six-month period. More than 85% of the clients stayed engaged for the six months and the number of drug use decreased. The People that were running the study as well as the center, had been trained to deal with these issues and were their peers (Ponce, 2014). The great results of this study show that people work better with people who are similar to them, or understand their situation. That is why Orr Psychotherapy is a good resource because they try to understand you as much as possible and work to get the results as you want as a client.
However, women still do have troubles obtaining the services they need to properly live a healthy life. In a lot of the Omaha clinics, they charge a minimum fee or suggest you have insurance for therapeutic services. This is not an ideal request of somebody who is homeless, which is something that they could work on. The Community Living Room, did not mention about a form of payment being required. The Community Alliance program as mentioned before is a positive resource for women who struggle with mental disabilities.
Many of our scholarly journals mentioned that although homelessness is not caused by health issues, health issues tend to be an outcome of homelessness. Many people are underinsured or don’t have insurance at all, and accessing the proper medical attention is difficult. The United States does have Obamacare, which is supposed to be granted to everybody, but is not always affordable for everybody. If you have a lack of housing or employment you aren’t going to be able to obtain insurance. Community Alliance has donation opportunities for their services for the mentally disabled so that they won’t have to pay such a high fee for medical services. They also have low income options and can waive your fee if necessary. This service is very similar to the community living room as well.
Some differences of the Community Alliance service and Services from other cities is that due to a change in homeless population, depends on the need for services and the cost of services. Other cities like Chicago or Houston have higher populations so they get more funding. That is something that could be looked at when funding these services. Also, in other cities they have a different ethnic background so their studies seemed skewed when looking at it from an Omaha point of view. In a study approved by the South Carolina Review Board, they had 79% (536) males participate and 20% (132) females participate, and is this study as well as the one mentioned earlier they had majority black over white participants. This shows us that more black males are typically homeless than white males or females. These findings suggest a disadvantage in the black homeless community when it comes to finding jobs or a place to live.
This portion of the project looked in depth at how education can affect homelessness, different job opportunities and job resources available, and it takes a look at the many transitions that people who are homeless progress through. This portion used different studies for research and then information about resources in the Omaha area. These resources are easy to find and this portion of the project goes more in depth on what some of the resources are.
Every year in the United States 1.35 million children experience homelessness and about 52,000 of them live on their own (Aviles De Bradley). Students spend most of their time either at home or at school, but for children or youth that are homeless, they spend most of their time at school and the school can be essential for students who need support and resources to ensure their success. According to a study, many schools have a lack of implementation when it comes to an educational policy. Some of the problems include things like lack of awareness, lack funding and school staff, and some even lack local agencies that can help homeless students (Aviles De Bradley). Another study claimed that “homelessness has a greater impact on those who miss more days of school in general compared to regular attendees” (Canfield). That same study also stated that children and/or youth who are experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk for poor educational outcomes. That includes things like below-grade level reading and math scores, higher rates of dropouts, and poor attendance (Canfield). It is a common belief that homelessness is thought to be an experience of transience which means that the homeless youth and/or children are moving between housing situations.
Throughout the research process, resources from schools didn’t exactly come up but there were a lot of resources in the Omaha area that could easily be useful to the children and/or youth in the Omaha community. There a few school-based health centers around the city and there are places for women, infants, and children. Almost all the programs for the people who are homeless, are available to children and young adults. There are multiple shelters and ways to get the children and young adults that are homeless, into the foster care system if that is what they want. These resources are relatively easy to come by and there are more than likely more out there that wasn’t collected into the research done.
The two main places children and young adults stay are at school and at home and when they only have one of those things, they need to be able to find stability and they need a support system. Many schools have programs and protocol in place for situations that involve homeless youth and children and someone in that school is bound to have the information about the resources available to them.
Although education in a school setting is very important, there are also many useful and important skills that not only young adults can learn by being employed. If an individual is homeless, it can be somewhat challenging to acquire the basic needs that come along with a steady job. Things like a place to sleep at night, transportation, and a way to clean clothes and themselves. Not only do they not have a permanent place to live, many people who are homeless have some sort of physical or mental disability which limits the types of jobs they can do. In a study, it states that: “In addition to poverty, homeless individuals identify occupational performance problems related to finances, housing, personal care, difficulties satisfying basic needs, and health concerns.” (Heifrich). Homelessness, in itself, is a huge risk factor for different emotional disorders. Although it can be challenging to get a job with some of these setbacks, it isn’t impossible. There are many resources within the Omaha area to help teach some of these skills and places to help people get back on the “right” track.
Throughout the community there are resources for almost everything. There are many shelters that do more than just house people at night. For example, has information about different programs that they offer and what types of things that people can donate to help people who are homeless. There is also a Work Source program that has information on the things they do and how they help the homeless acquire a job and how doing so will benefit an employer. There are multiple services to help teach people more about things like Social Security Income (SSI). Although these are good resources, one that might be most helpful is through Community Alliance. They have supported employment that has career exploration and they help with not only job placement but also job retention.
Throughout this research process, it is easy to see that the resources are there for people who are “down on their luck”, people must be willing to look for them and must be willing to use them. They can only help someone if they know that someone needs their help.
There are many stages in every person’s life but one of the most important stages is the adolescent stage. In a study, that examined and discussed the family history and transitions among homeless youth and young adults, it was reported that 1.6 million young people experience homelessness annually and it is estimated that 1 in 7 adolescents will run away from home prior to the age of 18. This same study stated that some of the reasons that the adolescents ran away was because of substance abuse, child maltreatment, and witnessing violence and about one third of homeless youth and/or young adults have experienced sexual abuse and over one half are victims of physical abuse and/or neglect (Tyler). This study was done with 40 homeless young adults (ages 19-21) who were in the Midwest. Family history plays a large role on what can happen to a child and few people know about the different resources available to them throughout transition periods.
While looking around in the Omaha area, it was possible gather information on many different resources for young adults or any person going through a transition phase. In North Omaha, there is a Center for Healthy Families and they offer many different services and programs. For example, they offer Child-Parent psychotherapy (CPP) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCTT). Also in the same center, they offer things like pregnancy and adoption counseling, family life education and support, and early childhood therapies and specialized parenting supports.
Family history is one of the biggest factors on how someone’s life is going to play out. Family history determines a lot of things that many people don’t even realize. Homelessness starts with the people that were and were not around when a person was growing up or it starts with an event that may have been triggered or caused by a family member or someone that was close to them that they trusted dearly. There are many causes for homelessness that some people don’t even realize.
This portion covered topics like education, employment, and the transitions. All of these topics have a large impact on homelessness and how they can help diminish the problem in the Omaha area. Above, there were resources in the Omaha area stated and what each resource can help with. The next portion of this project goes more in depth into family history and more resources that are available in the Omaha area for families or single parents.
Social class is defined as, how society is divided based on determining factors such as economic and social status. Differences between males, females, and children plays a huge part of the social class today, and especially, right here, in Omaha Nebraska. The following paragraphs will be discussing the differences between male and female parenting skills while homeless, homeless youth and how they are affected, and the resources males, females, and youth will be able to find in and around the Omaha metro area.
On the streets of Omaha, Nebraska there is no telling between the male portion of the homeless and the female without doing a study and asking every single homeless person in the streets of Omaha. Many studies show that the male population in thriving more than the female population because males seem to be more strong and scary looking than the females. But on the opposite side of the spectrum female’s bare children and if they do not have enough money to support both them self and their child the possibility of ending up on the streets in more prominent. In the journal, “Social Support Networks of Single Young Mothers” by Allison Schrag and Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, “70 out of 1,000 women were pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2005” (Schrag, Schmidt 318). At such a young age these women are put through hardships, not only to their body, but also raising a child at that young will have a negative effect on the woman and the child. “Some youthful mothers found their parenting experience positive, but very few established meaning through their pregnancies” (Schrag, Schmidt 317). It is very hard for a woman of such a young age to see something so hard for them as a positive experience, and as a result they end up on the streets with a young child and it makes it ten times harder for them to concentrate on how they will find a safe environment for them and their child.
Women are not the only parents that can be found homeless and living on the streets. Just because men do not bare the child does not mean that they are ruled out for becoming a homeless, single parent. Having a father figure in a child’s life can give them a lot of benefits. “Children will have a better sense of well-being, they will be equipped to achieve educational degrees, and they it will assist them on being a well-rounded parent” (Fathers for a Lifetime). Although the reasoning for single fathers to become homeless is very different from how a mother becomes homeless, they still might have to think of homelessness as a reality for them. If the mother of the child dies or leaves and the father has no more support than he and the child will end up on the streets.
Luckily there are some resources in the city of Omaha, Nebraska the will assist single, homeless fathers and mothers. The resources are Fathers for a Lifetime, Healthy Start OHS, and Center for Healthy Families. Fathers for a Lifetime help single or married fathers become the men they want to be for their children. It provides Mentoring and advocacy services, educational sessions, and community resources (Fathers for a Lifetime). The second resource, Healthy Start OHS, is a program that’s vision is to lower the number of infant deaths in families. OHS stands for Omaha Healthy Start, so this resource is specifically for mothers and fathers in the Omaha area (Healthy Start OHS). The last resource is called Center for Healthy Families. This resource is through Lutheran Family Services, which is an amazing resource for homeless families and they are located all over the Omaha area. The Center for Healthy Families are specifically designed for families in the poorest neighborhoods or families that are on the bridge of becoming homeless. The programs at the center mainly focus on addressing the daily issues facing families which includes, Nurturing parent program, teen and young parents program, fatherhood initiatives, and many more programs that brings families together (Center for Healthy Families).
Another class related issue in homelessness is homeless youth. Homeless youth is a very prominent part of the homeless society. Homeless youth makes up a lot of the population of the homeless. “Sadly, families with young children is a reality for many families in the United States” (Hinton, Cassel 457). Having young children is such a sizeable financial struggle. Many families have children and do not consider the fact of having to provide for them and baby products are not cheap by any means, and parents tend to bite off more than they can chew. In the database “Exploring the Lived Experiences Of Homeless Families With Young Children” families with young children become homeless because they are not properly educated. “Early childhood educators know the value of understanding the young child’s background story and know the importance of providing care and support to the entire family” (Hinton, Cassel 462). If parents and young children were educated on how to support themselves and each other the reality of homelessness would disintegrate.
Homeless youth, alone, still play a major role in the homeless population. One of the reasons for youth to be out on the streets in caregiver rejection. “Youth who are homeless often report elevated levels of family conflict as them for the entrance into homelessness” (Schmitz, Tyler 2598). Family conflict between parent and child will have a huge effect on the child. It can affect their education, their relationships, and their choices about substance abuse. Violence and victimization within the household are reasons for teens to drop out of school and leave the house (Schmitz, Tyler 2598). After the teen or child leave the house they are out on their own and they have to start fending for their self. At such a young age these teens and kids will get into gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, or even starvation from lack of education on how help themselves. “Young people’s experiences of caregiver rejection will shape the way they interpret parental behavior” (Schmitz, Tyler 2599) which will essentially show them that they cannot trust adults and will make them hesitant in any foster care situations or face-to-face communication with an adult.
Thankfully, there are resources in Omaha that will help families and youth educate them. Some resources in the Omaha area include, Our Vision, The Center for Healthy Families, and Lutheran Family Services. Our Vision will build families and children with the specific human care that they require. The children services have prevention and intervention programs. Along with children’s behavioral health, permanency, and well-being (Our Vision). The Center for Healthy Families has many locations in Omaha, also including services in Pottawattamie county and Fremont (Center for Healthy Families). Lastly Lutheran Family Services has so many different opportunities for families to be educated. One of the programs help women and men who are expecting or have a child under the age of three months old. Services consist of parent-child activities, child development information, building parent skills, and many more (Lutheran Family Services).
There are so many aspects to homelessness that have similar ideas and characteristics that will help people further understand the social class of homeless men, women, and children. There are, also, many resources in the city of Omaha, Nebraska that provide support, education, and useful information that will educate families on how to stay a thriving family, men and women on their parenting skills to avoid homelessness, and youth to educate them on their well-being as homeless youth today. The next portion of this paper will include and discuss more resources in the Omaha metro area and how they related to homeless people.
This part of the project is dedicated to resources available to the homeless. The resources that the group chose to focus on are government assistance, healthcare, legal services, and shelters. These themes embody most of what is available to the homeless or that play the most pivotal role in helping individuals out of poverty. The secondary research program revolved around collecting pamphlets/ brochures from local nonprofits then analyzing them to find the primary factors behind homelessness in Omaha and to see what steps were being taken to assist those that were homeless or below the poverty line. This information will be compared to databases to see if the problems of homelessness in Omaha are being combated correctly and what things Omaha might be missing in assisting its homeless population.
After looking through the databases it was decided that the best way to understand homelessness in Omaha was to go to local nonprofits and get as much information as possible from them. This was accomplished by gathering pamphlets and brochures from nonprofits around the city of Omaha. Once the information was gathered themes were pulled from each brochure and were then combined into general themes about homelessness in Omaha.
Government assistance can be a preventer in individuals ever becoming homeless and in lifting individuals out of homelessness. Some of the main help governments can assist in is giving money to nonprofit organizations, giving nutritional/ monetary assistance, and by instituting proper education. By giving to good nonprofits, governments, can help programs that were designed to help the homeless at different stages. By giving nutritional/ monetary assistance those at or below the poverty line can focus on accumulating wealth which helps keep them from being homeless. Lastly, solid education standards that include all individuals are vital to not only the individual but the community.
Healthcare and health education are vital in ensuring quality lives for the homeless. Some aspects of healthcare that came up in the pamphlets were medication distribution, frequent checkups, and available care. Many individuals that are homeless suffer from some type of mental disease and without getting medications that they need it may be difficult to function in society. Frequent checkups are also necessary, especially when individuals are exposed to harsher conditions as the homeless often are. Frequent checkups are especially vital for children that are homeless to ensure proper development and so they get much needed vaccines. Many homeless people have trouble finding care or knowing where to go so having available care that reaches out to the homeless is very important. The most important parts of health education that were found in the pamphlets were nutritional education, sex education, and educating the homeless on where/ how to get quality healthcare. While struggling to find a next meal the nutritional value in food is not something that is always focused on but learning how to get healthier meals and what foods to avoid can greatly impact individual’s health. Sex education and resources for having safe sex are super important, the homeless population is more likely to have risky sex and having the proper education and resources is vital to preventing these outcomes. Getting or knowing where to get proper health care is a important to homeless individuals being healthy and that assistance can improve their quality of life greatly.
Legal care is important in keeping society accountable for helping the homeless back into society. Many individuals can end up in poverty through minor offenses, disabilities, or lack of a voice; all of which are provided by quality legal care. If individuals go to jail from minor offenses, it can be incredibly difficult to get back on their feet again. Without being able to afford fancy lawyers the disenfranchised are often at the will of the court but with proper legal advisement this could be less of a problem. Workers need to be ensured to disability payments, when injured on the job many individuals need proper legal representation to make sure they are getting their full benefits, this makes legal aid a necessity. Lack of a voice in society comes from being in poverty, the poor need those in high legal position to enact legislation that can help all those that are impoverished.
Shelters are one way to ensure that individuals are getting all the care that is necessary. With quality shelters comes a support network for the homeless along with a link to many other programs and advice that can help the homeless get out of their current situation. Having a social network that comes with quality shelters is important to individual’s mental state. With social bonds come a feeling of stability and this is what can come with shelters. Shelters also give parents an ability to slow down and connect with their children which helps with the child’s future. As was stated before shelters provide a wide array of assistance that can be therapeutic, medical, or legal all of which are a necessity for the homeless.
Government assistance is relied upon by much of the homeless community for its assistance of nonprofits or direct monetary assistance of the homeless themselves. Aside from these governments most important role in helping the homeless is through providing quality education to the homeless and ensuring that the homeless population is not left behind during education. The need for a focused plan is essential after the recession which dispersed many homeless populations, with a homeless population spanning urban and suburban areas a nationwide approach for homelessness is essential. This means that schools need to be properly educated on how to mentor students and also need to be able to transport students when their own families are unable to transport them. This quote highlights one of the many issues that homeless children face in their schooling “Young children subjected to experiencing homelessness are ‘‘twice as likely to experience learning disabilities and three times as likely to experience an emotional disturbance’’ compared to housed children (Shaw and Goode 2008, p. 6).” (Hinton, S. s., & Cassel, D. (2013)) Without stability homeless children are already put way behind other students and a comprehensive plan for assistance is necessary.
Health care access for the homeless and those near the poverty line has always been a problem but was exacerbated by the economic recession, the need for proper healthcare was a theme found both in journals and pamphlets. ” Adverse economic conditions such as a recession can affect PCA and result in negative health outcomes. Individual economic losses, including the loss of employment and decreases in household income, are consequences of a recession and can lead to a loss in health insurance coverage (e.g., employer-based coverage).” (White, B. M. & Jones, W. J. & Moran, W. P. & Simpson, K. N.) Without coverage the homeless are less likely to get checkups for themselves and their children. Without checkups children miss much needed vaccinations and parents are more susceptible to long term damage if injuries or illnesses go untreated.
Shelters are a necessity for the homeless to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Shelters encourage building of social connections including parent- child connections and provide access to a variety of other services. “Parents who are homeless cite the lack of social relations as a strong negative force in their lives (Swick 2005). An important step in empowering homeless parents is to help them build and sustain strong social networks (Hartman 2009).” (Swick, K. J., Williams, R., & Fields, E. (2014) To start a transition away from homelessness a strong social network with support is super important. But shelter have to be specialized enough to also give families isolation because without these more intimate connections future positive relationships are more difficult to form.
Overall this research was very helpful in deciding how Omaha could be helped. Our end results were that the organizations need more funding. Many of the organizations including community alliance and Lutheran family services needs higher funding to be able to provide quality services. Another option is advertising their services. Not enough people are aware of all of the wonderful services these places offer at a minimum fee (if any), and this could help lower the poverty rate. This helps because people would be able to get back on their feet fast and efficiently with higher funded as well as more advertised organizations. This study was an eye-opener on just how fortunate middle class and the upper class population is.
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Canfield, James P. “Using a Person-Centered Approach to Examine the Impact of Homelessness on School Absences.” Springer Science+Business Media New York, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.
Heifrich, Christine A., et al. “Life Skill Interventions With Homeless Youth, Domestic Violence Victims And Adults With Mental Illness.” Occupational Therapy In Health Care 20.3/4 (2006): 189-207. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Hinton, Stephanie1, email@example.com, and Darlinda1 Cassel. “Exploring The Lived Experiences of Homeless Families With Young Children.” Early Childhood Education Journal 41.6 (2013): 457-463. Education Source. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.
Schmitz, Rachel1, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Kimberly1 Tyler. “Homeless Young People’s Experiences of Caregiver Rejection.” Journal of Child & Family Studies24.9 (2015): 2598-2609. Education Source. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.
Schrag, Allison, and Ada Schmidt-Tieszen. “Social Support Networks of Single Young Mothers.” Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal 31.4 (2014): 315-327. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Tyler, Kimberly A., and Rachel Schmitz M. “Family Histories and Multiple Transitions among Homeless Young Adults: Pathways to Homelessness.” Children and Youth Services Review 35.10 (October 2013): 1719-726. Children and Youth Services Review, 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2016