Homelessness Marathon blog

... ending homelessness isn't a matter of charity, but a matter of changing the way our society is structured. -- Homelessness Marathon founder, Jeremy Weir Alderson, aka Nobody.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Thought About Detroit

It is funny how the brain works.  When I got back from my second trip to Detroit, I wrote something about my meditations and the things I had seen but not about the things I had heard, and one thing in particular really had a wallop in terms of making an impression.  I've told people about it, but I didn't originally record it in this blog.  Maybe it just takes time for your impressions to sort themselves out.  In any case, what impacted me was something that Ellen Good, the head of Alternatives for Girls told me.

Alternatives for Girls or AFG, is a Detroit charity with a lovely campus on which they house young women who might otherwise be facing life on the streets.   They get corporate underwriting and what not, because what could be a more attractive pitch than saving young women from prostitution and all the other assorted ills waiting for young women without means in a city where there really are no jobs (the unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers who have given up are estimated to add up to nearly 50% of the local workforce).

Good told me that they've seen over 5000 women on the streets but worse, much worse, she said they had to turn away 800 qualified young women between the ages of 15 and 20 over just the past year, because they didn't have any free beds to offer them.  800!  Where does anyone think these 800 wound up?  Other shelters do take young women, but AFG is the only one with comprehensive services and, besides, every shelter in Detroit is overflowing.  One can hope that some of the 800 found a family member or someone to take them in, but a city that leaves 800 young women a year to face the streets, what can you say about that?

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