"To provide affordable housing, job training, job placement and access to supportive services for low-income single mothers, single fathers and emancipated youth, living in poverty in the County of Los Angeles."
Why these target groups?
Because Raft identified a critical need for stable higher paying jobs and affordable housing to maintain sustainability for these underserved families.
Low-income single mothers
Since many employers today rely increasingly on a temporary workforce, almost 60% of which are California women, as the cycles of business firings and layoffs fluctuates, so do the cycles of homelessness for many of these women and their families. Raft conducted a community needs assessment in early 2004, interviewing 220 single mothers. The majority of women interviewed (18-35 yrs) had worked for temporary agencies, earning minimum wage, with frequent gaps in their temporary employment. These women are typically the first casualty's in economic downturns. Furthermore, when these families are in need of shelter, single parent mothers with teenage boys are systematically separated because teenage boys are not accommodated in most shelters with their mothers and other siblings. Teenage boys are separated and placed in foster care settings, which compounds the problems of at risk youth.
A study by the National Low-income Housing Coalition shows, "In California, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $8.00. In order to afford the Fair Market Rental (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 131 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 3.3 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable." Compounding this problem is the 40% reduction of the Section 8 Housing Vouchers' Program allocation, since 2009.
Furthermore, the Economic Policy Institute" and a chronicle in the "Monthly Review," shows many of these women leaving subsidized programs and taking on minimum wage jobs to sustain their families ...
- Lose access to critical housing and medical benefits
- Are not eligible for unemployment benefits
- Have had to increase their requests by 23% for emergency food in major cities
- Have had to increase their requests by 13% for emergency shelter
Foster children leave the "the system" when they reach age 18 (emancipation), without official support from the state or county. A study found that half of these emancipated youth had serious money problems, such as not being able to buy food, shelter or pay bills. Without intervention, many of these youth will become the new homeless. Raft's LSI, with its comprehensive vocational training program is working with leading agencies to identify those youth (18 to 20 yrs), with the greatest potential to complete the course and prepare them for job placement leading to self-sufficiency.
Voices of Children (86 KB)
Child Welfare Services Data (47 KB)
Foster Care Transitioning Manual (3820 KB)
Low-income single fathers
A seven year study ("Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing") conducted by Professor Kathryn Edin of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and fellow researcher Timothy Nelson, showed most unmarried, low-income fathers strive to be good parents. Many of these fathers were teenagers. One salient point she makes is that poor fathers in high-crime areas view fatherhood as a heroic undertaking because of the danger of their surroundings.
The vast majority of poor single fathers strongly desire an ongoing relationship with their children, that those relationships tend to erode over time and that the father’s relationship with the mother is the single most important factor in whether he remains a part of his child’s life or not. Other studies show that mothers tend to be the gatekeepers of father involvement with children. It finds that mothers moving on to subsequent relationships are a “driving force” behind the decline in father involvement over time. Indeed, a mother’s new relationship is twice as likely to result in reduced father involvement as is a father’s finding a new partner.
Author and founder of Men's Family Law, David T. Pisarra, Esq. in Santa Monica, California shares in one of several published case study guides states, "Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those father's behind on child support nationwide earn poverty level wages; less than four percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. According to the largest federally-funded study of divorced dads ever conducted, unemployment, not willful neglect, is the largest cause of failure to pay child support.
The “Most Wanted Deadbeat Parents” lists that are put out clearly illustrate this problem. Far from being lists of well-heeled businessmen, lawyers, and accountants, the vast majority of the men on these lists do low wage and often seasonal work, and owe large sums of money which they could never hope to pay off. Even a person with a college degree is a rare find on these lists. Nevertheless, the powers that be who create these lists say that the men on the lists are singled out for their “ability to pay.”
Even though dads are often the only ones targeted and criticized, according to U.S. Census data, noncustodial mothers are actually 20 percent more likely to default on their child support obligations than noncustodial fathers. This is despite the fact that noncustodial mothers are less likely to be required to pay child support, and those with support obligations are asked to pay a lower percentage of their income in child support than noncustodial fathers.
Raft's LSI vocational training school targets low-income single fathers ages 18 to 35 years.
Impact of Fatherhood (89 KB)