Imagine being just a paycheck away from becoming homeless with no support to help in a time of crisis. The loss of employment, an unexpected medical bill, or an auto repair leaves you without enough money to pay your bills. As a result, your home and family security are at risk. As adults struggle, their children struggle.
Children growing up in the culture of poverty face many challenges. Frequently, they don’t get enough sleep nor enough to eat. In addition, they may not have the opportunity to bathe nor have their clothes laundered on a regular basis. Often, these children do not have meaningful opportunities to form healthy attachments with adults and other children.
The longer children experience the culture of generational poverty, the less likely they are to reach their full earning potential as young adults. Oklahoma County ranks among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping impoverished children climb the income ladder – near the bottom at 17% of all counties.* Children who experience unstable childhoods grow up to be adults who produce households marked by instability.
Without question, there is a “cause and effect” relationship.
Homelessness isn’t just bad for children and adults. Homelessness shortens life span and hurts kids in school. It is a burden on everyone else. Studies conclude that a single period of homelessness can cost taxpayers $20,000 or more, in the form of welfare, policing, health care, maintaining homeless shelters, and other expenses.**
The most effective programs work by giving one-time cash assistance to individuals on the brink of homelessness who can demonstrate they will be able to pay rent in the future. Individuals receiving assistance were 88% less likely to become homeless after 3 months and 76% less likely after 6 months.** Through follow-up over the past eight years, Upward Transitions found 85% of our clients assisted with rent and utilities have remained housed with utilities connected twelve months later.
Our services make it possible for our clients to preserve or obtain housing; retain or restore utilities; and re-establish identity through birth certificates or state IDs which are required to apply for public assistance, rent housing, obtain employment and obtain healthcare. Upward Transitions, Inc. has been in continuous operation since 1925, and we are a recognized and respected provider of relief assistance. We use a strengths-based case management model and strive to empower and encourage our clients to stability rather than to foster codependency.
The need in our community is great. We average more than 70 requests for rent and utility assistance every day. Currently, we are able to provide assistance for only 10% of those requests.
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Ray E. Bitsche, Jr.
* “The Long Term Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods”, Chetty, Hendren and Katz, Harvard 2015
** “Emergency Assistance Prevents Homelessness”, Sullivan, Evans and Wilson, Notre Dame 2016