Facts on Homeless Families
- How many homeless children are there nationally?
The National Center on Family Homelessness estimates that there are approximately 1.5 million homeless children in the United States and homeless families make up 34% of the homeless population.
- How many homeless children are living in the Columbia area?
The 2011 Homeless Count conducted by the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless (MACH) identified 1,621 homeless individuals in Columbia and the surrounding area and reported that 25% were in families with children.
- Do homeless children attend school?
In 2010, Richland County School District One identified 1,093 homeless students attending their schools and the South Carolina Department of Education identified 10,820 homeless students in schools across the state.
Based on test scores, the National Center on Family Homelessness estimates that the high school graduation rate for homeless children in South Carolina is less than 25%.
- Who experiences homelessness?
While many people still hold onto the stereotype of the homeless as a man in dirty clothing standing on the corner with a backpack or shopping cart, families with children are often considered to be the “hidden homeless.” In fact, the National Coalition for the Homeless reports that families are one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population in the United States and nearly half of homeless children are under the age of six.
- Why do families become homeless?
Lack of affordable housing, low wages, domestic violence, physical and mental health issues, and substance abuse are some of the main reasons people become homeless. In Columbia, a full-time worker needs to earn $14.29 per hour or work 79 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Living at Family Shelter
- Who is eligible to receive services from the Family Shelter?
Homeless parents with legal custody of at least one dependent child can receive help from the Family Shelter. Due to staffing reasons, the shelter has age restrictions for teenage girls older than 16 and for teenage boys older than 12. Additionally, due to the special needs of pregnant women, the Family Shelter is currently unable to serve women past their first trimester of pregnancy. Although we primarily serve families from the Midlands-Richland and Lexington Counties- we also make our services available to families from surrounding areas or who may be passing through our area but are unable to move on because of an emergency.
- How long can a family remain at the Family Shelter?
The Family Shelter’s initial emergency program allows families to be sheltered anywhere from 14 days to 4 months, depending upon the client’s needs and their willingness to actively participate in our program. Eligible families may apply for residency in our transitional housing program, where they can stay in their own apartment for six months to 2 years.
- Where is Family Shelter located?
Family Shelter is located on 2411 Two Notch Road in Columbia, South Carolina. Our campus is situated on a 1.5 acre site and consists of 2 emergency housing buildings, 8 transitional housing units, a dining hall, an administrative office, a computer lab, a playground, and a laundry room.
- How many homeless families can the Family Shelter help?
We have two emergency housing dormitories that can shelter up to 15 homeless families at one time and 8 transitional units where families can stay while they continue working towards independence. In 2011 alone, Family Shelter received over 1,100 requests for emergency shelter from families. Unfortunately, due to capacity limits, we were only able to serve 103 families, 9% of the total shelter requests received.