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January 2011



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By John M Grohol PsyD

My wife is a big fan of Bon Jovi, so when I read this article about Bon Jovi’s fact-finding efforts to help better understand homelessness in order to help it through his foundation, I couldn’t help but blog about it.

If you didn’t know, a significant portion of homeless persons have a mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. It’s hard to know for certain, but research suggests that approximately 2 out of 5 homeless people have a mental health issue.

Bon Jovi wants his foundation to do more to help the homeless:

That’s because this tour in support of Bon Jovi’s latest release, “The Circle,” is also a fact-finding mission. The singer plans on visiting as many homeless shelters and programs as time allows in hopes of getting ideas and inspiration to shape his own work with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a Philadelphia-based charity that fights homelessness by building affordable housing, establishing community kitchens and cleaning up vacant lots in blighted neighborhoods.

You can’t work on solutions to homelessness until you better understand it. SAMHSA has a great resource page about homelessness, and notes that most, or about 80 percent, exit from homelessness within 2 or 3 weeks. “They often have more personal, social, and economic resources to draw from than people who are homeless for longer periods of time. About 10 percent are homeless for up to 2 months, with housing availability and affordability adding to the time they are homeless.”

So contrary to the way many of us perceive homelessness, 90 percent of the homeless are not long-term. It is a short-term problem for the vast majority of the homeless.

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has already built more than 150 units of affordable housing in seven cities since 2006. This directly addresses one of the primary problems of the vast majority of homeless people — affordable housing (that’s not crime-ridden). Bon Jovi is a realist and the article notes that the “homeless” are not some homogeneous group of people — different problems that cause or contribute to homelessness will require different solutions.

That’s good, because there are many different problems that need to be address; short-term housing and affordable housing are a good start. But greater access to treatment programs to help the folks with mental health concerns — including alcohol and drug problems — is also needed.

To me, this is a great example of a celebrity using their fame for good in a very pragmatic and helpful manner. I wish more celebrities followed in the footsteps of Bon Jovi.

Read the full article: Bon Jovi’s new tour doubles as a research mission

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/02/27/bon-jovi-rocks-for-the-homeless/

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