Picture from Denver Post feature article.
Monte: Much is being said these last few years about how much the economy has "improved" and how much "lower" the homeless rate is, but is it really? I've been watching as food banks and shelters have slowly started closing one at a time, and not because things are getting better. But don't take my word for it.
Just as the Unemployment statistic is based on the number of people taking unemployment and therefore being seen, so too the homeless census is based on those who volunteer the information that they are homeless. Thus when the 2014 article regarding homeless children in Denver Public Schools came out after the homeless census showing a huge discrepancy between the census' estimates of the number of homeless families and the number of children, people began questioning the legitimacy of the census.
Even if we were to take the census as being an estimate, since 2009, just in Denver Metro alone, the number of individual homeless, those on the streets alone, has dropped while the number of homeless families, single parents and couples, has increased.
More to the point, what is being done about it?
Speaking as someone who has kept a close eye on it until a couple of years ago, shelters slowly opened up to the more expensive idea of sheltering families, something that came with increased liability and, all too often, child welfare issues that resulted in shelters either backing off or closing. Transition housing programs started running faster than there were homes or Federal funding to keep up with to the point that most are in lottery fashion now and only as homes become available.
In other words things have gotten progressively worse.
On top of that, a bit of research a couple of classmates and I conducted amidst the homeless population also brought up another concern, generational or cyclical homelessness. All too many of these families are getting so caught up in the lifestyle that goes along with homelessness that their children only continue the cycle, and now we have third and fourth generation homeless on the streets of Denver.
From the beginning, the idea has been for Dirt 'N' Nails to turn the tide: Providing counseling and Christian care to deal with the trauma of both becoming homeless and homelessness. Providing education and educational assistance for both children and adults, including in life skills, home economics, and, in the case of the farm itself, on-the-job training. And, most importantly, providing hope.
Dirt 'N' Nails is all about sowing seeds of hope for the hungry and the homeless.
We hope you will join us in this quest.