If someone is categorized as homeless, it must obviously mean that they are lacking a home…but just what is a home? The Oxford Dictionary defines home as “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” Okay – so what are some of the tangible/intangible things that we associate with “Home”?
1) Safety: we are protected both from the elements and other people who may harm us
2) Nourishment: we probably have a refrigerator and cupboards with food in them
3) Sanitation: we can step into the bathroom anytime we need to
4) Hygiene: we have showers/laundry facilities at our disposal
5) Entertainment: we can watch tv/movies/internet whenever we want
6) Rest: we have beds/couches that allow us to sleep comfortably
1) Peace: we can retreat to our home/room in safety and solitude when we need to
2) Healing: when we are sick we can recover in our own space and at our own time
3) Security: our possessions and precious memories are relatively safe from damage/theft
The above do not even capture the most important piece of Home for most of us: that we are there with our FAMILY
Now, try to imagine yourself as homeless and missing many, and maybe all, of the above. I cannot even comprehend how it must feel to be cold, wet, scared, lonely, fatigued, dirty, hungry, sick, and perhaps even addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. But I can tell you that I have many friends who are struggling with these very things. And on top of all of these crushing issues, Society is also looking down at them and wondering “why can’t you get your life together and get a job, etc.”
As I see many unsheltered friends this week and wish them Merry Christmas I can’t help but be even more sensitive to how they might be feeling with all of the festivities going on…I know it can be a challenging time of year for many folks for all kinds of reasons. But I do catch myself and remember that Christmas is really the greatest gift for EVERYONE – that God did indeed send his Son because He loves each and every person that he created, regardless of where their earthly home may be.
I just want so much to lighten the burden that my friends experience from the judgement and isolation that is levied upon them. Let’s all please think about what Home means and how blessed we are…and then go further to try and share any piece of that with those who are missing it. If we can lift them up, they have a fighting chance to achieve it once again (or maybe for the first time). Regardless, our efforts must not just be during the Holidays – but all year long.
Here is a link to this year’s report and you can see from the Summary that there is lots of interesting information…if a certain segment is more interesting to you, pls check it out!
This past week I met with my friend, Leon Longard, and he shared the vision of Circle City Village – a project that he and some other associates have been working on for quite some time. There are actually many of these tiny house villages across the nation, but don’t be fooled because the obstacles to achieving such a goal are so numerous and it requires incredible patience and dedication. I know Leon is truly committed to this endeavor and I am going to help him any way that I possibly can!
For more information you can find the Circle City Village page on Facebook, or also go to http://www.food4souls.org (Tiny House Village)
To see other projects from cities around the US check-out http://www.thevillagecollaborative.net
As the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty notes, a growing body of research comparing the cost of homelessness – including the cost of criminalization – with the cost of providing housing to homeless people shows that ending homelessness through housing is the most affordable option over the long run.
With state and local budgets stretched to their limit, rational, cost effective policies are needed.
Lastly, arrests, unaffordable tickets, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions make it more difficult for people to exit homelessness and get back on their feet.
COCs receive funds from HUD under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to provide direct services to the homeless people in their communities.
However, as the report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty in the link below details, there are serious concerns with the accuracy of the data obtained – that it actually significantly underestimates the number of homeless in the US.
This link is to a page where you may drill-down to every Continuum of Care (COC) in the US to view several years of data on homelessness. This data is the result of the annual Point in Time (PIT) count conducted nationwide. I encourage you to take a look and see what homelessness looks like in your community. If you have any questions, please contact us anytime!