Finding Your Way Home (by Mark Hedgepeth)

RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

We are a rich, strong country with resources, so why do we deal with third world problems, such as homelessness? What can we do to end homelessness? INTRODUCTION: My name is Mark Hedgepeth, a veteran and a Portland Community College student who resides in Beaverton, Oregon. This term I had chose to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I feel strongly that everyone in this country should have a place that they can call home. It is my passion to help end the homelessness in the United States. I couldn’t agree more with President Obama, when he spoke these powerful words on June 18th 2009:  “It is simply unacceptable for individuals, children, families and our nation’s veterans to be faced with homelessness in this country.”

Research Collection

Source 1: Batiaglia, Tammy. “Grand opening of Detroit Apartment Building Ends Homelessness for Tenants.” Detroit Free Press. Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013
Commentary: In this peer reviewed article the author discussed how Detroit had used volunteers, builders and social service agency workers to renovate an apartment building for the homeless. The new tenants will pay 30% of their income towards rent. With this one project alone, they were able to end homelessness for 41 residents. This article also speaks about aftercare which is very important to keep families from becoming homeless again. In the aftercare, they taught classes for vocational and literary training to 12 step programs along with cooking classes.

This article gave an answer to the research question “What can we do to end homelessness?” It was a powerful and easy solution that helped 41 families. To charge only 30% of a families income would allow the family to be able to sustain living in a home. This article showed how compelling a group of volunteers from the community could make a positive impact in their community. It supports the idea that when citizens become involved in our nation’s problem we can make a change.

Source 2: Jones, Declan. “Action on Homelessness must be priority.” Irish Times. Sept. 2005. Web. Nov. 2013.
Commentary: This authoritative article is calling for a radical reform of our social policy because the number of homeless people is increasing at an alarming number. The article states that our country is one of the wealthiest countries, yet the number of homeless people continues to grow despite our prosperity. The author states if we want to really address the homelessness, then we must address the needs through targeted services that include: aftercare, access to education, community mental health services and drug treatment facilities. Without these supports experience has shown that a cycle of homelessness will continue to extend through generations.

The article supports the idea that we can’t just provide homes for the homeless but we must provide the aftercare. The aftercare is a key component to ending homelessness. This supports my quest on how to end homelessness. There is not a quick cure. There needs to be a shift across-the-board approach by the government to fully examine the inequality in society. By understanding this inequality, it would help them to create a greater understanding of the homeless issues and allow the government to facilitate the development of effective policies to tackle the underlying issues. Otherwise, the extent of homelessness will be deepened, exacerbated and prolonger and we can expect homelessness to remain a permanent problem. Source 3: Culverwell, Wendy. “Homelessness threatens to undo Portland’s economic progress.” Portland Business Journal. Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013

Commentary: This authoritative story by the Portland’s Business Journal confirms that after a ten year plan that was adopted by the city of Portland, Portland has even more homeless people on the streets than back in 2006. They claimed the number one reason is due to the recession.

This report confirmed that the recession has caused more homelessness than before. This article explains one of the reason why we have homelessness in the United States. It also informs the public that the government has been working towards ending the homelessness problems. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, the problem is worse than ever.
Source 3: Kulongoski, Governor. “A Home for Hope; a 10 year plan to end homelessness in Oregon.” June 2008. Web. Nov. 2013.

Commentary: This is the official fifteen page plan that was adopted by the Ending Homelessness Advisory Council c/o Oregon Housing and Community Services. It gives a detail report on the goals and strategies to end homelessness. Needless to say, it has been nine years since it was initiated and our homelessness is worse than before. It is frustrating to see such a detail plan fail miserably.

Source 5: Lowrey, Annie. “Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive.” The New York Times. Nov. 2013. Web. Nov. 2013.

Commentary: This article is about a proposal in Switzerland made by Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic income movement. The proposal was that every Swiss citizen would receive a check from the government every month, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking, or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. The article examines the possibility of a basic income movement in the United States. Their are two extreme points of views. The case from the right is one of expedience and efficacy. The right feels that this basic income would work better than the current programs, including welfare, food stamps and housing vouchers. It states that a person wouldn’t no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits. And that by giving a person a single lump sum, it would help them to use the federal dollars benefit. An idea that would benefit both the recipient and the economy at large. But, the other side of the view is the Left. The left is more concerned with the power of a basic income as an antipoverty and pro-mobility tool. A case study of this was done in the mid 1970’s. It was called the mincome. The study showed that poverty has disappeared. And that high school completion rates went up, hospitalizations rates went down. For such a program, the concern is the cost. The basic income would be enough to live on, but not enough to live well on. It would end the homelessness.

This was my favorite article. It actually gave an answer to my questions on how to end homelessness. It has a few niches to work out, but it could be the solution to ending homelessness. It has great potential. I hope that our government looks seriously into this option. 

An Author’s Note:

My most significant learning during this process of writing the research collection and my public piece was how passionate I had become regarding the homeless epidemic. At first I felt overwhelmed with the facts and the alarming numbers of the homeless and what could one person truly do to help out with our nations crisis. I was feeling hopelessness and loneliness for our homeless. These feelings surprised me and I felt that I wasn’t doing enough. Yes, I could write a letter to the Congresswoman and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but was that enough? I started thinking how one small change, can snowball into bigger changes. Perhaps, one day the United States will be free of poverty and homelessness. The United States could become a place where we are all created equal.

Writing for the public makes me nervous. I am hoping that my piece will advocate for the homeless and stir up emotions in my readers so they will get involved in their communities to help end homelessness. I hope that my passion will come across my letter and inspire others to get involved.

 The Public Writing

Mark Hedgepeth

November 26, 2013

Honorable Suzanne Bonamici 12725 SW Millikan Way
Ste 220
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Dear Congresswoman Bonamici,
To start with, I would like to say thank you for all of your hard work and the support in

our community. My name is Mark Hedgepeth, a veteran and a Portland Community College student who resides in Beaverton, Oregon. This term I chose to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I feel strongly that everyone in our country should have a place that they can call home. It has become a passion of mine to help end the homelessness in the United States.

As you are aware in these difficult economic times, too many American families have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. Last year, over 20,000 school children in Oregon were homeless at least once during the school year and nearly one in four Oregon children lived in poverty in 2012. This crisis of homelessness also affects our veterans. Brave men and women that have have fought for our freedom and have no place to live.

It is because of these facts, that I ask what can we do as individuals, neighbors and communities to help combat the homeless epidemic? I believe that it is the responsibility of all Americans to help solve this chronic problem in our nation.

There are two programs in the state of Oregon, the Emergency Housing Account and the State Homeless Assistance programs that provide short term assistance to help fight homelessness. There needs to be more state funding to keep people in housing. As a leader for

our community, we look to you to make sure that these programs continue to be fully funded. These programs have proven to be effective in providing food and housing.

Thank you for your time in regarding these issues. I will end with these words that were spoken by our great President Obama on June 18, 2009:

“It is simply unacceptable for individuals, children, families and our nation’s veterans to

be faced with homelessness in this country.”

Sincerely,
Mark Hedgepeth

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2 comments

  1. Hello Mark,
    Your theme is exactly what I have been asking myself for awhile. I live in a small town and just started to attend the cascade campus in Portland which is 45 minutes of a drive. I didn’t believe this type homelessness existed in this country but after seeing many people sleeping in the streets and huge lines of people trying to get in a shelter in Portland had me thinking “How can this happen in the U.S?” Its amazing how the veteran risk their life’s to this country and end up homeless.
    Just having to see people live like this is heart breaking making you feel you need to do something but what?
    Your research sources are wonderful there are things that I didn’t know such as the after care and your summaries are well understood. Your letter shows its emotion which its important in order to get people to pay attention. I liked how you used Obama’s quote at the end, I think that if you show if he cares than so should they.
    Seeing how much this means to you makes your letter and research meaningful. Nothing to be nervous!

  2. I love that you have a passion to end homelessness and that emotion comes through in your writing. I agree with this 100% no one should have to sleep on the streets and no parent should have to explain to their children why anyone is on the street begging for food or money. They are not less of a person that say you or I. I also agree with your point about follow up and continued support. You can get someone a home but if you do not give them or help them get the tools to keep that home then you have just wasted everyone’s time. Very well researched however, I would ask have you ever gone down and talked to some of Portland’s homeless people? If you go down by the courthouse and talk to the groups that camp out down there some of those people are homeless by choice. This blew my mind. They didn’t want homes because it was easier to just sleep on the streets, not as many rules and you didn’t have to waste the money. The gentleman I talked to does not use drugs, doesn’t drink and doesn’t steal. During the colder fall and winter months he goes to a motel off of 205 that offers low monthly rates and he stays there until it warms up again and then goes back to living of the streets of downtown Portland. Lots of homeless people flock to Portland. We actually have one of the highest rates of homelessness because we have resources and we have lots to offer to that community. I hope that this gives you something else to try and broaden your outreach.

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