Home Sweet Home
It is a pretty sure thing that most, if not all, who read this have a place to call home. It may not be considered “sweet” but is probably warm, private and comfortable. Do we fail to appreciate our homes? Probably. I know I do at times. Once in a while though, I really pause to look around and genuinely appreciate each convenience and comfort, but it is easy to take these things for granted.
When I was a very little girl growing up in Anderson County, KY I remember a place called the “Poorhouse.” This big house sat up on a hill on the way to Lawrenceburg. There was a front porch that wound around the building and when we passed this place in nice weather there were men and women sitting in rocking chairs on this long porch. They looked old to me, but then all adults did at that time in my childhood.
Looking back I can still see those figures sitting on the porch and I now have more idea about how they became residents and how much stigma must have been connected to moving to the poorhouse. This was before Medicaid and supplemental programs to help the poor live independently. Such programs have changed the face of poverty but have not erased it.
Homelessness is a problem all over the world but today let’s look at the U.S. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in January of last year there were 553,742 people homeless in this country. This number, which represents 17 persons out of 10,000, is actually down since the last year counted. Some states such as Georgia have decreased their number of homeless but others, including New York and California, have increased. Thirty-four percent of homeless citizens are living unsheltered in such places as underpasses or abandoned buildings. I find it interesting that our places with the highness homeless rates are the nation’s capital (110 per 10,000) and Hawaii, a place we consider paradise (51 per 10,000). https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/
The most common reason for being homeless is obviously financial. The National Coalition for the Homeless points out some of the factors that contribute to financial difficulties. These include foreclosure, loss of work and job unavailability, decreases in public assistance and lack of affordable housing.
Many homeless individuals suffer from mental illness and/or addiction. Domestic violence often leaves families without safe homes. A decrease in available healthcare is another factor among many others. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/
What can we do? For a start:
- We can let our government representatives know that we care about this issue and that we are watching their decisions.
- We can contribute money to agencies that provide shelter for the homeless.
- We can donate blankets, clothes, food and other essentials to homeless charities.
- We may be able to volunteer to provide services directly to the homeless.
What other ideas do you have to alleviate homelessness locally and nationally?
“We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.” Dennis Kucinich