For the Birds

Another chilly day, heat cranking, sunny beaming in, sipping coffee and I realize how lucky I am. My teen wants to go to high school and my husband snores, brilliantly, in my world today. 

Not everyone has this luxury though. The rates of homelessness, teen pregnancies and divorce in The 21st Century startles me so.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness of Washington, D.C. 
reported “The State of Homelessness in America 2013” in a 50+ page pdf with sad facts and figures with pretty blue tables & graphs that made me gulp.

It said, in Massachusetts, there were 10,320 Homeless People in Families in 2011. There was an increase of 8.6% in 2012 to 11,212 Homeless People in Families.

Then there was Table B.5 where it gave results of Sheltered vs. Unsheltered Population in 2011 and 2012. There was a 2.7% increase from 2011 to 2012 for unsheltered homeless with a 5.1% increase of homeless in shelters from 2011 to 2012.

Andrew Scott, writer for The Pocono Record of Pa. wrote on Jan. 22, 2014, “Unsheltered” [homeless] means living in tents, cars or abandoned buildings. 

Therefore, the sheltered homeless means organizations that house people who can’t afford a home. The Greenfield Inn of Northampton, Mass. run by ServiceNet is one homeless shelter listed on the DoSomething.org web site.

And I asked myself why all these sad statistics? To discover, “Table C.2 Persons in Poverty and Poverty Rate by State.”

The April 2013 report stated Massachusetts had  725,143 persons in poverty in 2010 and 738,514 persons in poverty in 2011 which is an 1.8% increase. Yet, the unemployment rate went down 11.9% from 2010 to 2011. I had to ask myself why families would become homeless with unemployment down.  Whereas I then thought it must be the rent the landlords vie for. And I received my answer from The National Alliance to End Homelessness April 2013 report. It stated: 

A dearth of affordable rental housing can contribute to high numbers of homeless families and individuals. In 
expensive housing markets, competition for units can drive rents for the region higher. Fair market rent is a gross rent estimate established by HUD that includes rent for a unit as well as utility expenses; 40 percent of units in a particular geographic area are rented at or below this amount. At the national level, the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom housing unit increased by 1.5 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Combined with this kind of knowledge, I shall continue writing about homelessness. My Journo 101 Honors Professor, Norman Sims, at UMass Amherst had us research and write a paper on this topic. Hopefully I can find it and post it later.

Within homeless families are teenagers. Lost lonely depressed teenagers getting comfort from others. I think of the teen pregnancy rates in America and whimper for the lost, lonely babies raising babies. My co-worker is a grandma at 36.  In researching this life-altering topic, I was able to discover oodles of information.

Kelsey Sheehy wrote on Jan. 20, 2014 for USNews.com, “Teen Birth Rates Drop, But Districts Fight Parent Dropouts,”

But 60 percent of teen moms fail to finish high school, according to a 2012 report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the America’s Promise Alliance. And experts cite pregnancy as one of the primary factors driving students to drop out. 

I stumbled upon a teen sex quiz the National Organization to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy made on http://www.stayteen.org/quiz/.  I could customize myself with a name, chose a skin color with clothing preferences, hair style, shoe style along with dress my (potential) partner and my BFF (Best Friends Forever). Then answer six questions to receive a grade.

It really is fabulous for the millennials a.k.a. The Generation-Y. Feel free to find it and take it.

Lastly, I thought about the divorce rate in America and how fortunate we are to be married over a year.  There were plenty of facts and figures for this dreadful sort of information. I am so grateful for my husband and my teenager. We live in a messed-up, crazy world and I cannot afford to live without them in my life.

I leave with this. While we waited for the car to warm up, I asked my teen this morning what kind of story I should write next.  My caring girl threw out ideas like Koji Uhera of The Boston Red Sox. And birdies was her final decision.  She pointed out how the ground is frozen and they can’t get worms. They have to eat berries and what else?

And off to Agway I go to buy a suet feeder or seed bell for the lovely chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, starlings and sparrows that fly about. My next story should be about birdies. Be well.

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