Homelessness continues to be a major problem across our country. When most of us think about the homeless we think of those who have a drinking problem or suffer from various addictions, but it is bigger than this picture. The homeless population continues to grow for a variety of reasons including but not limited to, the loss of jobs, the cost of living, and having to choose between basics such as food, transportation, and even childcare. One of the major culprits is also the lack of affordable housing causing people to go from couch surfing to eventually ending up on the street. A growing number of the homeless community are our youth. We must do what we can to get our youth and their families off the street.
During the pandemic, a rise in homelessness grew. Homeless tents and pop-ups have been seen in neighborhoods and locations we never thought would have such traffic. Families with children, unaccompanied youth, transitional-aged youth (TAYs), seniors, and veterans continue to be a growing population in the homeless community. Sadly, Black and Native Americans are proportionately a large number in this society. It has been shared that an estimated 500,000+ people experience homelessness on any given night in our backyard. It has also been proven that homeless people tend to die between 15–20 years before those that live in homes. Organizations, individuals, as well as the local and federal governments, need to be concerned with how we can help end the problem of homelessness.
I have worked with Forgiving For Living, Inc., a nonprofit for over two decades. Our mission is to help girls and we have seen our share of youth who have been victims of gangs, sex, human trafficking, and other atrocities when faced with homelessness or even the threat of becoming homeless. When youth (especially young girls, even Transitional Aged Youth (TAY’s) grow up on the streets or depend on the generosity of people letting them sleep on their couch they become vulnerable beyond measure. Homeless children are also more likely to suffer from hunger and health issues. Some of their health issues can stay with them throughout their lifetime.
Affordable housing should be of concern to all of us. So many people are living paycheck to paycheck and owning their own home is a distant dream, keeping a roof over their heads and their family is their primary concern. For those of us that live in California, the dream of owning a home is even further of a reality. However, even with all this doom, we cannot give up. When the public and private sectors can come together there is always an opportunity to improve situations that appear bleak. Basic housing should be a right and not a privilege for everyone. We never know how close we or someone we love could be faced with these same concerns.
We must remember that no one wakes up and says they want to be homeless and live on the street. Jan Schakowsky said, “There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless, and the sick exist, then we can help.” We must all ask what are we doing to make an impact by helping get youth off the streets and into some sort of favorable living situation. #endhomelessness #youth #TAY’s #coachwendy #NehemiahProjectLA
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