Monday, August 16, 2010

Stimulus is a Bail Out for Those Facing Homelessness

There are those who persist in suggesting that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had no effect on the economy. This, in spite of the fact that a recent study has shown that without federal intervention, unemployment which now stands at 9.5% would be at 16%.

Of course some politicians who have been among the chiefest critics have been among the most conspicuous recipients!

The stimulus has also been responsible for preventing homelessness among those vulnerable to a recession that is proving as stubborn as it is severe.

An article in yesterday's Dallas Morning News, examines the success and the challenge of getting funds out of the door to keep people who have lost jobs in their homes, or helping them find housing when they've lost jobs and housing.

The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing grants are used for just such a purpose. While there is red tape that have made the process difficult for some non-profits to manage, we at Central Dallas Ministries have been able to help a number of individuals and families avoid eviction, foreclosure and interruption utility services. In fact, as the Dallas extends the funding, we've been approved to continue the program beginning with the next round of funding in September.

Does it really make a difference? An instance cited in the article gives an example...


"...when Emma Smith walked into Central Dallas Ministries with two daughters, a granddaughter and nowhere else to go, caseworker Michelle Kopel had to go with her instincts."

"Smith was laid off from her job as a school crossing guard last year, which establishes a "sudden and significant loss of income." When it comes to her "ability to achieve housing stability," Kopel pointed to the goals Smith laid out while in her office: go back to school to get her GED, find a job, send her daughter back to community college."

"In other words, Kopel said, "she's not looking for a handout. She's just looking for help.""

"Smith walked out of her second lengthy appointment with a brand-new, three bedroom apartment."

""Sometimes you have to go with your gut," Kopel said. "I had a good feeling.""

"Smith said she couldn't see herself in a shelter with her grandchild and children."

""It was a relief when she [Kopel] said, 'I got you a three-bedroom.' I couldn't do anything but start crying," Smith said."


The recession isn't over. There is a persistent failure to acknowledge that the hole that had been dug by an economy which was undercapitalized by tax cuts for the rich, unfunded expenditures, Wall Street gambling and easy credit for nearly eight years, is not going to be overcome in two. The qualified success of the stimulus doesn't mean that we've averted all of the problems we've created and encountered. But because of the stimulus, some families are able to weather the storm a little while longer.

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