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Public Safety

Many individuals struggle with their mental health and creating a stable lifestyle. Homelessness is one of the severe issues that needs fixing in the world. Mercy Housing published an article with 7 startling facts about homelessness in the United States.

First off, the homeless population in the United States could fill five football stadiums, as it was determined that 567,715 people were homeless on any given night in January of 2019, but this number still does not fully capture the state of homelessness in our country.

One in every 30 children, 2.5 million children per year, experience homelessness, which is roughly the entire population of Chicago.

Because children experience homelessness at such an early age, many have brain development setbacks that hinder their learning, handling of emotions, relationships, etc. and at least 40% of homeless school-age children have a mental health problem.

There are nearly 37,085 homeless veterans in the United States and more than half of them have a mental and/or physical disability. After fighting for our country, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to experience homelessness, mental health problems and substance abuse, as many struggle with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On a single night in 2019, homeless services providers had more than 48,000 beds set aside for survivors of domestic violence. Survivors of domestic violence and abuse gather the courage to leave their situations even when they have nothing, increasing their risk of homelessness and lack of resources.

Being homeless decreases an individual’s life span by 20-30 years, as the average life expectancy of a homeless individual is 50 years old.

Finally, homelessness is a risk factor for anyone, as many live paycheck to paycheck and unexpected events turn people’s lives around for the worse.

Homelessness is a problem that will not go away on its own. People continue to provide support and resources for those in the community to fight this widespread problem but cannot do it alone. If you have the resources or time to volunteer or donate items, that little bit can go a long way for someone in need.

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Public Safety
An article posted by Corridor News addresses issues surrounding homelessness and recidivism rates in the Austin community. “The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) has facilitated dramatic reductions in repeat offenses among individuals experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations”. The Court is aiming to help reduce these issues by showing compassion and care to individuals, by using a rehabilitative approach instead of incarceration or admitting them to hospitals. This leads to the improvement of the individuals lives and reduces strain on public systems, including jails and health care programs.

The DACC has already seen dramatic reductions according to a recent study. “The analysis of citations issued to a group of 59 individuals experiencing homelessness both before and after their engagement with DACC’s Intensive Case Management program reveals that the number of citations plummeted by 99% from 1,556 before participating in DACC services to just 7 afterward”. The mission of the DACC is to continue to serve individuals experiencing homelessness with person to person contact and a comprehensive approach. They want to create safe and respectful environments for people and to provide them with the help they need.

The DACC program is also working with the Intensive Case Management (ICM) to stop the issuing of fines that lead to arrests or threats of jail time. Instead ICM provides access to support systems and programs for substance abuse, mental health care, peer support, basic needs, and permanent and transitional housing. The case management team is currently working with 122 people to combat homelessness and provide a second chance for them. As the program grows, they are expecting to help more people get back on their feet by providing necessary and basic services to combat homelessness and recidivism.
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Public Safety

Times Union recently published an article regarding how the Albany Sheriff’s office is going to help the homeless population. As jail populations have decreased, the Albany County Sheriff’s department is working on creating a new solution to help end homelessness. The program is set to be called the Sheriff’s Homeless Improvement Project and will use an empty tier in one of the jail’s buildings as a transitional housing and one-stop resource for those struggling to find a job, suffering from addiction or mental health issues and living on the streets. The programs for these struggling populations are centered around programs already being implemented in the jail that are offered to inmates. Sheriff Craig Apple states “whatever we can do to release somebody who can be healthy and productive back in the community, [is] our goal here.” They also are focusing on reducing recidivism rates and have already seen a drop as people are not coming back to jail. 

The jail population has been decreasing. In July, there were only 431 inmates , compared to the 1,000 it is able to house. This Albany jail is not the only one seeing a decrease in inmate populations, as the state’s total population in county jails fell over 13% from July 2018 to July 2019. Due to these new programs and the sheriff’s office working on rehabilitating inmates instead of employing a punitive approach, the jail is changing its name, to encompass its new mission; the Albany County Corrections and Rehabilitative Services Center. The jail is partnering with other centers including St. Peter’s Hospital, the Homeless and Traveler’s Aid Society, CDTA and other groups to create the program and build services. 

The homeless program is still in the works and Apple said they are trying to figure out their source of funding for food and housing. The facility will have rules similar to those of shelters and the staff will be civilians from nonprofits and the sheriff’s department. This saves the cost and limited resources of staffing correctional officers in the facility and gearing the workers towards what the population being housed in the facility will need. Apple is hopeful that this new facility and programs will help the homeless population get back on their feet and become functioning members of society again. 

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