Archive for March, 2013


CEDAR BLUFF, VIRGINIA* (Photo credit: gobucks2)

As promised my research for part of the rest of my ENG 380 class will include a study of the homeless in Berea Ky where my college is. I talked to a few people and did a little bit of research to begin this process.

I spoke with Dr. Margaret Dotson, Professor of Child and Family Studies at Berea College on the subject of homelessness in Appalachia. She told me that it is difficult to realize the extent of homelessness in the region because family and friends are willing to allow their homes and possibly a camper trailer to ease the suffering of a family member. We discussed the fact that some of these mountain people are also camping in the mountains away from public view.(Dotson, 2013)

Dr. Dotson sent me an article from Rural Mental Health,  ” In Rural areas, fewer individuals fit the ‘typical’ profile of homelessness, including sleeping ‘on the streets’ or in shelters; instead, many individuals and families without money ‘double up’ sleep in tents or live in other nontraditional settings such as abandoned vehicles(National Coalition on Homelessness, 2009a; Robertson et al, 2007). “These marginalized living situations have led to increased use of the moniker ‘hidden homeless’ to refer to people experiencing homelessness in rural areas”(Sherry R. Shamblin, 2012).

A cab driver in Berea,KY told me recently that the panhandlers in the city are not homeless. They live in the hotel(Driver, 2013). If they are panhandling daily  to pay  for a hotel room it seems to me an indication of an unstable situation if not the exact definition of homelessness.

About two weeks ago a lady stood on the corner in front of our McDonalds holding a sign requesting money donations. I purchased a McDonald’s gift card for her and asked if she was homeless. She said no, she and her boyfriend had a broken car and were trying to raise enough money to return home. I gave her a few dollars to help fix her car and left her to the work of collecting more money.

This is HUD’s definition of homelessness:

  • “People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided. The only significant change from existing practice is that people will be considered homeless if they are exiting an institution where they resided for up to 90 days (it was previously 30 days), and were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation immediately prior to entering that institution.
  • People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing. HUD had previously allowed people who were being displaced within 7 days to be considered homeless. The proposed regulation also describes specific documentation requirements for this category.
  • Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.
  • People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing. This category is similar to the current practice regarding people who are fleeing domestic violence”(Brief, 2012).

This is a brief tour of rural homelessness in the Appalachian region. I will investigate more of the causes of homelessness in the area and further investigate homelessness in the city of Berea,KY.

The following link is to a poem   The Unopened Gas Station of My Homeless Appalachia By Bret R. Crabrooke 

Homeless and down and out. I guess there is a difference but the line is thin. Rural Appalachia and the city of Berea have a different way of doing things than people in the cities. I will talk to some more people in the area and see what else I can find.


Brief, F. P. (2012, January 18). National Alliance to End Homelessness. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from

Dotson, D. M. (2013, March). (D. Reeves, Interviewer)

Driver, U. C. (2013, March). (D. Reeves, Interviewer)

Sherry R. Shamblin, N. F. (2012). Conceptualizing Homelessness in Rural Appalachia: Understanding Contextual Factors Relevant to Community Mental Health Practice. Rural Mental Health, 3.

Homeless Hotel

Homeless Hotel (Photo credit: quinet)

I found a program online that works with homeless men to give housing and support increasing their abilities to live independently. The Way Home President J.P. Richardson responded to an email I sent asking for some insight into the organization’s success. The following are excerpts from  his reply.This is an interesting look at one solution that is helping to end homelessness for some people.

 From: J.P. Richardson
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 8:00 PM
To: Donna Reeves
Subject: The Way Home

I am excited to share with you about the effectiveness of the model which The Way Home has developed. I would like to begin by explaining a little about how we started and who our clientele includes. In early 2011 a group of concerned citizens, not for profit representatives, and County officials met to discuss the pending eviction of a local homeless encampment that housed about twenty individuals…

…That group eventually became The Way Home in August 2011 …individuals housed through the initiative drew a drastically lowered cost of housing and services as their reliance on hospitalization, jails, and rehab centers decreased dramatically. This was largely due to the apparent lift in self concept that resulted from the lack of rules surrounding the housing that was offered. The idea was simply to require that individuals pay their rent and cooperate with their roommates. It did not list sobriety as a requirement to secure housing…
…While every homeless individual has their own story and many have different reasons for ending up in the situation in which they find themselves, drugs and alcohol do play a significant roll..

..After much discussion, we created The Way Home Model. In our model, tenants are required first and foremost to pay their rent and to be cooperative roommates. The house is a clean house which means that there is no alcohol or drugs allowed on the property. Tenants are encouraged to seek sobriety but are allowed to consume alcohol off the property as long as it does not interfere with the good nature of the relationship of the individual with his house mates. Drugs are not permitted and random drug screenings are part of the program…

…We opened our first home in June 2012 with five residents of dramatically different backgrounds and ranging from 29 years old to 62 years old. After one month the men were adapting to community living within the scope of their new neighborhood at different rates. One individual got drunk one night, assaulted his roommate, and fled from the house. When we located him several days later we served him with an official letter from The Way Home banning him from the property and removing him from the program. It also gave him some contact information for alcohol abuse counseling services which he chose not to call. Several weeks later he was arrested and incarcerated. The other four individuals continued to adapt well to their new surroundings. After two months, we located a fifth man to join the home, and he quickly adapted to his surroundings and his house mates…

…In September, after 90 days had been completed, it was clear that the men were showing obvious signs of change. The did not act or talk like they had when they first moved into the home. Their alcohol use was decreasing and they began taking pride in the appearance of the property. When 2012 drew to a close, all five men had shown dramatic improvement in their personal self concepts. Most had found jobs, all were getting along with each other quite well, two men were able to renew their drivers licenses, and they had all began setting goals for their futures — both short and long term.
Today all five men remain in the program while two are considering moving on and securing their own rental properties. One man is shopping for a van so that he can open an antiques dealing business which is what he had done before becoming homeless. Self esteem is a powerful factor which plays a major role in most abusive situations. When fostered and sheltered intentionally, self esteem has the power to heal and renew not just destroy lives.
Now 9 months into the program, I am amazed daily at the change in the lives of the men we house. While group therapy and life skills play a vital role in changing lives for the better, it has become quite clear to me that nothing we do can overshadow the importance of a healthy self concept. Our words and our rules and program all tell our tenants that they are worthy of a good life and that there is value in their individual lives. This is the message of love that Jesus came to teach. This is the mission that was handed down to the Church by the Apostles. We all once filthy rags until Jesus washed us white as snow. God’s love can conquer the most corrupt and wounded hearts, and in my experience He completes this through drastic changes in self concept made possible only by His touch.
I hope that this has helped in your research…

In Christian Service,

James Richardson
The Way Home

This is a Facebook message from Angie Lee, my cohort in the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program at Berea College. Angie writes to me about her recent experience with a homeless man. To read more from Angie visit her blog at



I stumbled across your blog after the Sullivan Foundation mentioned a post of yours. I just wanted to share an experience I encountered with a man during my spring break. This man was standing on the street corner outside of a restaurant, and he asked my husband and I for a piece of bread. We did not have any food, and told him to wait for us to come back. He began to cry. We raced to the grocery store, afraid that this man would be kicked off of the corner, and brought him some food. When we returned he began to kneel in thanks and cry, but of course we didn’t want him to kneel and asked him to stand. I wondered the rest of the night how this man would have ended up in his situation, and why a soup kitchen or shelter was not available to him.

Keep up the good work on your posts.


The Right to Shelter and Proven Solutions to the Problem of Homelessness | Coalition for the Homeless.

This is a link to the Coalition for the Homeless Blog. They are addressing the needs of the homeless in New York City. It includes a report recently released by NYC Mayor Bloomberg explaining the 2013 homeless situation in NYC. This article outlines some history of rights of homeless people in the city.

Definition of Homelessness

Definition of Homelessness (Photo credit: homelesshub)

Street Sleeper 2 by David Shankbone

Street Sleeper 2 by David Shankbone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










In my research I will be investigating many possible causes of homelessness. Some of the people who find themselves homeless say that drug addiction was largely to blame. “Substance abuse is both a cause and a result of homelessness, often arising after people lose their housing…Substance abuse is much more common among homeless people than in the general population…Substance abuse is often a cause of homelessness”(Homeless, 2009).

The Greensboro Voice offers accounts from members of the homeless community. “Reggie Johnson… ‘I was working every day at the Four Seasons Mall…I loved my job until I was introduced to drugs…It became so bad that I could not pay my rent, my car loan or keep my job’” (Gilmore). Another interview with Darryl Bowers offers, “I broke the law by selling drugs because I thought that fast money was a way of life for me” (Gilmore).

An article in the New York Times offers “The major role that drug or alcohol abuse plays in causing homelessness has emerged in recent comments by advocates for the homeless, who estimate that addicts constitute a higher proportion of the homeless than do the mentally ill or other identifiable subgroups” (Kolata).

In further discussions on causes of homelessness, I will investigate the drug abuse contributor.


Gilmore, A. (n.d.). Short takes with Anita: A collection of stories. The Greensboro Voice.

Homeless, N. C. (2009, July). National Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from Nationa Coalition for thel Homeless:

Kolata, G. (1989, May 30). Drug Addicts Among the Homeless: Case Studies of Some ‘Lost Dreams’. New York Times.

I think that a discussion of the solutions for ending homelessness should include assessing the abilities of the homeless population. Discovering ways to make these people able to sustain themselves will make an impact on their prolonged success. I have begun this portion of my research by looking at homeless art.

Here is a link to Art from the Streets. This organizations provides support for homeless artists. Watch the clip from the award winning documentary Art From the Streets: a feature length documentary.

This links it to a Huffington Post article about a formerly homeless man who supports himself by selling his art.

And EII EscapeIntoLife offers a look at the work of a homeless artist, Herbert Freeman.

These are only a few examples of talent of the homeless. Displaying these is a way of opening my mind and the mind of others to the potential of these people.

The idea in my mind of what homelessness looks like didn’t include this segment of the population. I spoke a few days ago to a young man who will be living out during the college summer break. He was homeless last summer and is preparing for another summer without a regular place to stay.I began researching and found homelessness among college students is a growing problem.

English: Students at Sheridan College

English: Students at Sheridan College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the Palm Beach Post , “There are a number of structures in place to help homeless students in K-12, but fewer for homeless college students, said Jennifer Martin with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators” (Ross, 2012). The article reports an increase in Florida’s homeless students from 155 in 2006/07 to 638 in 2012.  Ross goes on to say that the homeless students range “…from a single mother staying in a shelter and taking college classes to better her life, to a high school grad…” These against all odds students are working hard to make things better for themselves.

NPR had this to say,”For many college students and their families, rising tuition costs and a tough economy are presenting new challenges as college bills come in.This has led to a little-known but growing population of financially stressed students, who are facing hunger and sometimes even homelessness.UCLA has created an Economic Crisis Response Team to try to identify financially strapped students and help keep them in school”(Hillard, 2010).The UCLA Team offers a list of on and off campus resources for students with financial difficulties.

Addressing this information, I would like to work to build a similar resource for students on other campuses. I will be entering  The Appalachian Ideas Network Contest at Berea College in April. I would like to incorporate a resource similar to the one being offered by UCLA. The idea for the contest will address homeless prevention and resource awareness. Feel free to comment with resource suggestions and other information.

Hillard, G. (2010, July 27). College Students Hide Hunger, Homelessness. Retrieved March 4, 2013, from NPR:

Ross, A. (2012, December 1). More attention, resources focusing on homeless college students as numbers rise. The Palm Beach Post.