110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Statistics on homelessness, poverty, still paint dismal picture
By Pat Andrews
posted Jun 17, 2014 - 1:51:03pm
DeLand attorney Theodore "Ted" Small has couped another honor and responsibility, with an appointment to the post of chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.
ABA President-elect William Hubbard announced the appointment, saying to Small, "Together, we will address issues of great importance to our profession, our Association, and the public. I am most appreciative of your commitment to justice. We need your leadership now more than ever to advance the rule of law."
Small, a native DeLandite, told The Beacon he is pleased Hubbard "selected the kid from DeLand," adding he is humbled to learn he had earned the respect of so many of his American Bar Association colleagues.
Small has been serving as a member on the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.
This is not his first recognition. In August 2013, during its annual convention, the American Bar Association presented Small with the Presidential Citation for outstanding pro bono service.
In October, the DeLand City Commission presented Small with a certificate of recognition describing his "longstanding commitment to Pro-Bono and Public Service work in the community," during Small's 20 years of practice in labor and employment law, as well as Small's dedication to helping the elderly and the homeless in the community.
The certificate also notes that Small serves as a member of the American Bar Association's Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, as well as the ABA Standing Committee on Pro-Bono and Public Service Work.
Small said he's calling on his colleagues for ideas on how Bar Association lawyers can make a difference — changing the legal, political, economic and social circumstances that are causing the stubborn conditions of homelessness and poverty to expand.
Poverty and homelessness continue to plague country, county
The Bar Association website www.ambar.org/povery notes that lawyers can play a role in helping to eradicate poverty, and provides resources and tools.
An article on the website, "Is Every Lawyer a Soldier, or Are We Tilting at Windmills?" notes that 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared the U.S. war on poverty, millions of Americans continue to face homelessness, hunger and economic insecurity:
• Nearly 50 million Americans now live below the federal poverty line.
• The top 5 percent of Americans earn more than 22 percent of all income.
• Approximately one in four Americans with a job earn $10 per hour or less.
• Nearly one in five American households receive food stamps.
• More than 1.2 million public school students are homeless.
• It is projected that more than 50 percent of American children will be on food stamps at some time before they turn 18.
The picture in Volusia County, where 16 percent of people live below poverty level, isn't bright, according to 2012 U.S. Census data.
A 2013 point-in-time count of homeless people by the Department of Housing and Urban Development identified 2,000 such people — living on the street or in shelters — in Volusia County, the state Council on Homelessness reported. The number has been running just above or below that since 2007.
Data from school districts indicated there were 2,228 homeless schoolchildren in Volusia County Schools during 2011-12, and statewide, the numbers have been growing, from 34,375 during school year 2007-08 to 63,685 during school year 2011-12, under a broader definition of homelessness, which includes sharing housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship, or living in motels, awaiting foster care and other factors.
Small said that probably the first step toward change is changing peoples' thinking about homeless people as some sort of different or lesser category of being. Homelessness is something that can happen to just about anyone, he said.
"They are citizens, too," many of whom have gone off to fight war for us, Small said.
He pointed toward the number of homeless veterans — 16.1 percent of the homeless Floridians identified in the HUD study are veterans.
Those numbers are poised to "explode" without interventions, as military personnel return from Iraq and Afghanistan, Small said. He estimates it will take only six months for many of these veterans to end up on the streets without the social, legal and social services they will need to reenter civilian life successfully.
Small said he is prayerfully considering what he can do, nationally and locally, in finding solutions to homelessness.
Current ABA President James R. Silkenat said, “The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty is dedicated to removing legal barriers to benefits, employment, housing, treatment and services for people experiencing homelessness. Given Ted’s commitment to social justice, I am sure that the Commission will accomplish great things under his leadership.”
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