September 25, 2009
September 24, 2009
The typical sheltered homeless family is comprised of a mother in her late twenties with two children.
• 84% of families experiencing homelessness are female-headed.
This is due to a number of factors:
o Most single-parent families are female-headed (71%).
Single-parent families are among the poorest in the nation and as such, are extremely vulnerable to homelessness.
o Many family shelters do not accept men into their programs, causing families to separate when they become homeless.
• Families of color are overrepresented in the homeless population. Nationally:
o 43% are African-American
o 38% are White, non Hispanic
o 15% are Hispanic
o 3% are Native American.
• Families experiencing homelessness usually have limited education.
o 53% of homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma.
• 29% of adults in homeless families are working.
• 42% of children in homeless families are under age six.
Data Provided By: http://community.familyhomelessness.org/
September 22, 2009
We Are Winning is a documentary about one community in America and the people in it who are solving family homelessness. Recent reports state that 1 in 50 children living in the United States will experience homelessness in 2009. Is family homelessness in America a condition that can be solved? Over the next several weeks you will meet people from the community of North San Diego County California who believe that solving family homelessness for kids and communities is achievable and who are doing something about it.
County Supervisor Bill Horn - from the government sector
Bill Horn, Supervisor Fifth District of the County of San Diego representing most of North San Diego County California describes the importance of Solutions for Change to a family in crisis and to the community at large. Supervisor Bill Horn has been known for his tough stance on social problems like gangs and criminality. In this interview Bill sits down with a family who, prior to becoming homeless, was causing some of the same problems that he was confronting. Formerly associated with the gang and criminal life, then homeless for a time before coming into and then eventually graduating the Solutions for Change program, a local couple shares their story with Supervisor Horn about how their lives have been completely overhauled. Says Horn, “The thing about Solutions for Change is that they want to make you successful, they want to help you work out of this no matter how far down or how tough it may look. They are the guiding light that comes alongside of you to help get you out of homelessness. No person should be given up on, really, and Solutions for Change is proof that with the right stuff many of our toughest challenges can be solved.”
Alan Heim – from the business sector
Alan Heim, Vice President Human Resources talks about why Directed Electronics invests in the community through the Solutions University programs run by Solutions for Change and how through the relationships which are built, many families including the lives of many children, are impacted in very meaningful ways. In this way, Directed Electronics views their reach and their commitment to significance far beyond the front door of their business headquartered on Viper Way in Vista California. Like their world-class automobile security systems that provide peace of mind and personal safety, their position in the community exemplifies a like attitude of investing in a safe and secure community, which according to Alan must include helping the families at Solutions for Change. “North County Solutions for Change has made an overwhelming difference in many of the lives of the homeless families in our community. I’ve spent time at Solutions for Change and I can see that these families are getting the support that they need to get back on their feet. It’s a program that we are very proud to be a part of.”
Daryl McFarland – from the law enforcement and business sector
Daryl McFarland, former police officer and current Director of Operations at Sun Country Builders, developers of the finest housing in San Diego County gives his views on homelessness. Daryl talks about how his core values and the core values which make up the Solutions for Change organization align around the simple principles of accountability and hard work. Daryl says, “For me having been an ex cop it was doubly surprising and doubly rewarding to see how this program could so dramatically change lives. We aren’t talking just any lives here; we are talking about the lives of homeless kids and we are talking the lives of the parents of those kids who are taking responsibility to change whatever is needed to succeed. Most times that change involves a real hard long honest look in the mirror. It’s not easy, but those at Solutions for Change are making it happen, one family at a time.”
September 18, 2009
September 15, 2009
It doesn’t look like serving the homeless, unless serving the homeless means more than a transaction around a bowl of soup, a shelter bed and a weekly case management visit with a few hugs thrown in there. Solving homelessness is based on forging a relationship with the person around a plan to help the person solve the underlying reasons that got them homeless. It’s not about transactions. It’s about partnership. And yes, in case you are wondering, it is possible to form a partnership with a mentally ill homeless person or a homeless person slinging dope on the streets. It may start with a bowl of soup, but it quickly changes into a strategic intervention plan with very purposeful goals and objectives that include getting shoulder to shoulder with the person around a conversation to get off and stay off the streets.
It doesn’t look like helping the homeless person at the expense of the community. In other words if what we are doing is stringing together transactions around soup bowls and shelter beds we are going to really piss off our community. We see this in the news all the time. Neighborhoods come unglued. This is the natural consequence to what happens when a church, a nonprofit or a program “helps” the homeless at the expense of the community. Again, it’s not about transactions, it’s about partnerships with those in our community too. And those partnerships MUST be purposeful and meaningful or people are going to see through it and get pissed off.
There is a long list of what solving homelessness doesn’t look like, but I am going to stop with this third example. Solving homelessness doesn’t look like the image of my buddies down there in San Diego with pitchforks and battle axes whacking at the toes of Godzilla. That is what we are doing in my humble opinion of 17 years on the front lines of this thing. Our battle plan sucks (sorry, I had to use the adjective that my 12 year old uses when I tell her to clean the garage without getting her the skills, knowledge and resources to do it right). The battle plan LOOKS like we are doing all kinds of really cool and important things like feeding, sheltering, serving, hugging and case managing the homeless. But in reality we are getting our butts handed to us. This opponent called homelessness can be defeated, but instead of crafting a real plan, a plan based around solving this thing (and perhaps putting some folks out of business) we just keep gleefully whacking away at symptoms. Hugs and Smiles - Chris Megison
September 11, 2009
September 10, 2009
September 8, 2009
We cannot express our gratitude enough towards one of the amazing local companies here in Vista that have helped made an impact and who are part of the change for the Solutions University - Watkins Manufacturing.
September 4, 2009
September 2, 2009
September 1, 2009
When it comes to helping families in crisis and giving kids who've lost everything something to hope for, the people in and around the Solutions for Change organization know what it’s like to believe in the impossible. Now that you are getting more involved in our cause we want you to start believing too…
In 1999 the Solutions vision was born. It was a simple vision that started with a nine year old homeless girl’s tug on a shelter workers sleeve and an innocent question: “excuse me mister but could I have a pillow please?” This little girl had no home. Her dresser was a black hefty trash bag and her bed as a half inch thick green Army mat on the floor of a church. When she got the pillow Amy was so happy because back then there weren’t enough pillows for the hundreds of homeless children seeking help.
Something happened in that moment and a promise was made to Amy and all the other little boys and girls. A promise that meant whatever it would take to SOLVE the root problems of this horrible thing called homelessness. A promise that meant that others would be engaged in a PURPOSEFUL and MEANINGFUL way around a plan to DEFEAT homelessness for these kids. Could we really solve this thing so that families and children could build a future that didn’t include being stuck in a dependency cycle of welfare, soup kitchens and shelters?
Feeding and sheltering would be done of course, but 90% of the plan would take place around what would happen AFTER the bowl of soup and the warm shelter bed was given. It was quickly learned that solving something as complex as homelessness wasn’t going to be easy. Many groups were feeding and sheltering the homeless and meeting their immediate needs but there was a massive gap separating the access to temporary solutions which seemed to be plentiful, and access to permanent solutions which were woefully nonexistent and which if available, would interestingly greatly reduce the need for the other.
It’s easy to get in the trap of containing homelessness and managing its symptoms by feeding and sheltering because feeding and sheltering is easy to do, but it’s really REALLY hard to develop partnerships around a plan to solve the underlying issues related to poverty, addiction, domestic violence, under-education and unemployment….to name a few. Solving it could happen with a big plan around a big attitude and that is why the name Solutions for Change was chosen. And so a plan was made and big attitudes were born. Then the real work began.
We built the plan around three core areas: 1) Improve Health (mental, emotional, behavioral and spiritual), 2) Equip with education and skills that would increase income, 3) Achieve housing stability. Activate the plan not in a shelter or a soup kitchen environment but in a “university type” setting where families could live, learn and work together to get equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to solve their problems and defeat homelessness, permanently.
Now ten years later Amy isn’t homeless anymore. She grew up, graduated High School and now attends college. 542 families with over a thousand kids believed and are no longer homeless today because the idea of hope and change meant hard work, learning to be accountable and responsible and developing partnerships with others who would equip - NOT give hand outs or foster dependency.
Solutions took its message of SOLVING this thing to the community and thousands of people from all the different sectors of the community responded. Church folks, business leaders, civic organizations…just average people. The Solutions University was created and now on any given day 60 families work hard to transform their lives within its walls. It’s still not easy. Solving something as complex as homelessness just is never easy. The Solutions staff, residents, volunteers and supporters work tirelessly to help families get equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to defeat this thing.
We need you to help us. We need you to believe. Now more than ever we MUST believe that we can solve this thing called family homelessness for kids and communities. Join us in believing. Sign up on our Twitter and FaceBook pages. Recruit your friends. Spread the word. Come visit us. Save lives with us. Solutions for Change is not just a name, it’s a promise! You are now part of the promise.
P.S. It's all divinely navigated anyway so you must be here for a reason.