1. The United States continues to have record highs of individuals living in poverty. The most recent numbers released in 2012 indicate that one in seven people in the United States live in poverty. (United States Census Bureau)
2. There are more than 3,782 homeless individuals in Oakland County, including more than 750 families. More than 700 of those homeless individuals are children. (Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness)
3. The largest subgroup living in poverty is women and children. (National Poverty Center at The University of Michigan)
4. Forty-one percent of homeless individuals in Oakland County suffer from mental illness. (Oakland County Task Force on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, OCTHAH)
5. There is not enough affordable housing in Oakland County. As our population ages, and children with disabilities move into adulthood, this need will continue to increase. (OCTHAH)
6. It actually costs taxpayers more to leave people homeless than to provide them with housing they can afford. (OCTHAH)
7. Homeless children have a high school graduation rate of less than 25 percent. This leads to a lifetime of lost wages and difficulties in preventing homelessness later in life. (South Oakland Shelter Needs Assessment)
8. In the last year, South Oakland Shelter has provided 25,000 meals and 8,000 nights of lodging to 450 clients. (South Oakland Shelter)
9. South Oakland Shelter has successfully re-housed 200 individuals and prevented 80 more from becoming homeless this year alone. (South Oakland Shelter)
10. So far, 96 percent of South Oakland Shelter participants have maintained their housing (South Oakland Shelter)
Here are 10 ways you can help:
1. Educate yourself on homelessness. Help dispel the myths and stereotypes about the homeless. Many individuals have lost their jobs, are struggling to find new employment and are unable to pay for housing.
2. Donate your time. South Oakland Shelter is always in need of dedicated volunteers. Volunteers fill multiple roles in the organization ranging from answering phones to aiding in service projects.
3. Make a donation in the name of a loved one. Honoring a loved one through a donation will help the South Oakland Shelter meet its annual operating costs.
4. Volunteer with a local partnership congregation. Congregations that house clients can use volunteers for cooking, cleaning and even driving clients.
5. Give the gift of stock. Not only can this charitable gift provide great returns for SOS, it can also mean a substantial tax savings.
6. Donate your talents. Are you a human resources professional? You can help homeless individuals with résumé writing and interview preparation. Are you a Microsoft Office pro? Teach a class on basic proficiencies. Do you quilt or knit? A new blanket can provide both comfort and warmth to clients in transitional housing.
7. Donate your Car. SOS participates with Charity Motors. That car you no longer drive can benefit the homeless in Oakland County.
8. Make an in-kind donation. SOS accepts donations like furniture, board games, office supplies and more.
9. Donate supplies that government assistance cannot provide, such as new socks and underwear, health and beauty care products, and cleaning supplies.
10. Buy a cup of coffee or a cup of cocoa. The Royal Oak Jaycees will hold their annual Jaycee Freeze event at Westborn Market in Berkley this Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Along with monetary donations, the Jaycees will collect supplies for the shelter and its clients, including new clothing, sanitary supplies and cleaning supplies.