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Archive for January, 2010

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At the Homeless Alliance, something we try to emphasize is that bad things happen to everyone. Everyone makes a bad choice, gets bad luck, and goes through personal crises at some point. That’s just life.

However not everyone who goes through a rough patch ends up bankrupt, impoverished and/or homeless.

Those of us fortunate to have well-paying jobs and family and friends who have financial resources and connections have a much better chance of getting through these bleak periods without losing everything.

The Buffalo News’ Joblessness Fuels Bankruptcy Spike shows us what happens when people with low-paying jobs, little wealth, and few options hit a rough patch.

Judge Bucki sees people in US Bankruptcy Court who have just gone through “job losses, divorce, health care issues, drugs, gambling, misuse of credit cards — every problem that can exist in a household.” All these things happen to people in households of all income levels. Again, the difference is that if it happens to a high-paid corporate executive (or other well-compensated/upper middle-class and wealthy persons), that person often has money in the bank, or other resources, and will be able to get through the rough patch (most likely).

This is not to say that there are not low-income, low-wealth people who manage to get through these traumas and not go bankrupt. It is only to say that low-income, low-wealth people will (most likely) have a much harder time recovering from personal crises than those who have the money and the connections to get through them.

Personal circumstances and personal crises, in and of themselves, do not create poverty. Everybody makes bad choices and has bad luck but not everybody is poor. Economic and social inequalities like low-paying jobs, lack of affordable housing, and lack of health insurance drain household wealth, leave lower-income households incredibly at risk when they run into bad times, often sending them into poverty.

-On a side note: Congratulations go out to PUSH and ReUSE for their successful efforts to create real policy change that will begin to tackle housing inequalities!

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The “Need Help With Utilities?” posters have loads of info on all the utility assistance programs in the area. As the temperatures drop, the info these posters can help you cope with soaring utilities costs.

The posters are on large 11″x17″ paper and are perfect for your organization’s lobby, waiting room, or bulletin board.

Please email info@wnyhomeless.org or call us at 853-1101 to get posters.

You can also download the “Need Help With Utilities?” poster here:

“Need Help With Utilities?” (pdf)

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As unemployment rates remain at historic highs and unemployment benefits run out for many workers and their families, steady sources of monthly income have become increasingly hard to come by. A recent article, Living On Nothing But Food Stamps, finds millions of workers and families relying on food stamp benefits as their sole source of income.

No money for rent or mortgage payments, transportation, utilities, or any of the other bare necessities.

Savings may help some of these households get through this rough period until they find full employment again but what about those who have little in savings? What if they are unable to find full employment?

This article begs a question that many Americans are now asking: is the American safety net torn?

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