Let’s talk about homelessness in our area:
People usually have predetermined ideas on what homeless is, means, and is caused by. Here at God’s Blueprints we take our definition of homelessness by the National Coalition for the Homeless. They recognize that there is a difference between rural and urban homeless. Unfortunately, reliable statistics for rural homelessness are hard to come by, but we can still demonstrate numerically where the Rogersville area lies in regard to homelessness by comparing to cities around the country. We do this by what is known as “per-capita” comparisons. Using this measurement, we compare numbers per 100,000 people. As an example, if you have a town of 1,000 people and 2 murders, how would that compare nationally against other cities? Our population would be represented by a factor of 100, or 100,000. Our victims would also be represented by a factor of 100 (100 x 2) which would be 200. So, we would say we had 200 murder victims per 100,000 population. When all cities are compared by the same expression, we can begin to see which places have a significantly higher or lower murder rate. We use this same per-capita expression for homeless, allowing us to compare ourselves to any other population center (city or town).
In Rogersville, we have a population of about 4,377 (city-data dot com). For our purposes we will just round that up to 4,500. We are also only going to count the homeless who have come to us for showers since January 1, 2022; this being 36 persons (each person counted only once). Using the per-capita method, we can see that our homeless population (per-capita) is 799. How does that compare to other places? According to the 2021 statistics from security dot org, the state of Mississippi had 37, Tennessee had 105.6 as a state, New York was second highest at 466.4, and Washington D.C. was 898.8! As you can see, Rogersville’s per-capita comparison is 799, putting us at a greater average then New York state or even California’s 406.5!
Let’s look at our homeless breakdown. Remember, we are not talking about all the homeless we have served, but only those who come to us for showers since January of this year (2022). 69% have lived here all their life, 31% have lived here 3 years or more. Only 36% have an addiction related lifestyle. 50% have either no substance abuse lifestyle or are unknown. 25% have mental health issues that severely prohibit them from integrating into society without treatment. 13% have an income, some even working full-time! Almost 70% are men, and just over 30% are women.
So where are all our homeless, and why do I not see that many while driving through town? Great question! First, most of them do not want to be seen. To be homeless typically fills a person with a very low self-worth. Remember, almost 70% ( or more) were born and raised here, have family here, and as we all know, this is a small town where most people know most other people. The reasons many of our homeless cannot be with family is as varied as the number of people who are homeless. From decades old disputes, mental health issues, addiction issues, abuse, trust, court-orders; you name it! Almost 40% of our homeless hop from friend and family houses, bouncing back and forth and to-and-fro. That same almost 40% also stay in unpowered (no electric or water) trailers, campers, and other structures such as out buildings. The remaining 60% live in tents, on the street, wherever they can find a “safe” spot, under bridges, and behind bushes.
It has taken us all of these nearly 2 years since we have established God’s Blueprints to gain the trust and confidence of these people: our people, our citizens of our community who need the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives. We have helped and are helping many get the mental health help they need, birth certificates and identifications so that they may gain employment, help them find solutions to their lack of housing, and so much more!