No one ever thinks that they might become homeless, and yet there are nearly 7,000 homeless people living in Orange County alone. From 2018 to 2019, the county saw a 70 percent increase in the homeless population. Homelessness is caused by a variety of factors, and in a survey conducted by Orange County United Way, Jamboree and UCI, some major factors include:
- Trouble securing or retaining work with sustainable pay (40%)
- Housing issues including evictions and foreclosures (36%)
- Familial issues including domestic violence, familial dysfunction, relationship dissolution or death of family members (28%)
- Alcohol/drugs (22%)
- Mental or physical health (30%)
- Release from jail/prison (7%)
No matter what contributed to someone being without a home, pulling oneself out of homelessness can be incredibly difficult. It can be even more difficult for individuals to reintegrate into the workforce and support themselves after devastating emotional, social and economic struggles. OGI is tackling the challenge head on, championing victorious futures for people from a variety of walks of life. Through job training and life skills courses OGI is helping Orange County’s homeless individuals, like recent graduate Michael.
Before joining OGI, Michael had been homeless off and on throughout his young adult life. Michael’s father passed away when he was only 13 and he found himself looking for the love and support that he had been denied by his dad. He fell in with the wrong crowd, finding the attention he craved with a local gang and experimenting with drugs. He ended up in a bad situation, intermittently homeless, and began selling drugs to pay the bills.
When his son was born, Michael realized he needed a new type of love and support, and a friend referred him to OGI. He credits OGI with helping him stay clean and sober, and helping him learn not only job skills, but the life skills he needed to start making good choices. Michael says, “Judy has been such an encouragement. She opened my mind and made me feel important, like and actual human being; kept me going when I wanted to give up. When I graduated, I knew I could do anything because I learned to stay positive and strong.”
This is just one success story. The staff at OGI is committed to helping more students pull themselves out of homelessness. By being the bridge from recovery to reintegration, OGI is serving up solutions to end the cycle of homelessness in Orange County.
You can join us by donating today to ensure we continue to train and educate members of our community to better integrate into the workforce.