Homelessness is not a vice

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By ALINA BURMISTROVA

The Mirror reporter

Do you think homelessness people are to blame for their problems? Might you think that if they really wanted to make their lives better, they would do it or something like that?

There are global causes of homelessness. A serious earthquake in 2011 in Japan claimed many people’s lives and those who survived lost their homes forever. Also, Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005, was no less an important event in human history. This one caused great damage to New Orleans. Because of the hurricane, almost all buildings in the city were underwater. Natural disasters contribute to the emergence of homelessness.

People have other causes of homelessness such as loss of jobs and drug use and alcohol consumption. Adults do that and make their children suffer because of that lifestyle. More often students become homeless only because of parents’ behavior and it is a really large problem.

Recently I conducted an interview with my host father Jerry Gargulak who is school psychologist, student outreach coordinator and just a cool person.  Gargulak said, “There are about 175 homeless students in Stevens Point Area Public School District. Last year there were 220 students identified as homeless.”

There are about 18,366 homeless students in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, there are not always good living conditions.  Gargulak said, “They may live in hotel or motel. They could live with somebody else, mainly school-age friends.  Some people stay at the Salvation Army or the Family Crisis Center. They could reside outside or even in a car.”

Gargulak also spoke about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act which “originally had 15 programs providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including the Continuum of Care Programs, the Supportive Housing Program, the Shelter Plus Care Program, and the Single Room Occupancy Program.”

He explained that “Under federal or US law we have to ensure that homelessness or people living in transition is not a barrier to learning.”

School counselor Jennifer Ries said, “There are some student-led organizations such as Key Club that would help homeless students groups.  Student Ambassadors also work with new students who come to SPASH throughout the school year, which would include some homeless students.  Our school will also give fee waivers and provide free breakfast and lunch to students who are homeless.”

Homeless students can apply to college and file for financial assistance through the FAFSA.   Students can also apply for scholarships that will help the cost of tuition.