Homelessness in Our Own Backyard
The Facts (Statistics)
Did you know that there are 567,715 homeless in the United States of America according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness' 2020 report? Out of the total homeless population 396,045 are individuals, 171,670 are people in families, 96,141 are chronically homeless individuals, 37,085 are veterans and 35,038 are unaccompanied youth. Whites account for 47% of the homeless population, while African Americans account for 39.7%. Latinos follow right behind accounting for 22% of the homeless population in the United States. And if those numbers aren't alarming, think of it like this, the last recorded population count of Cape Verde, Africa is 559,649. Imagine 100% of its population homeless. No homes, no food, no jobs, no access to technology and basic necessities.
Homelessness in the States
Although there are some states that have low rates of homelessness (Wyoming being the state to carry the least), it comes as no surprise that California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Washington are states with the highest homeless population. After all, 4 out of the 5 states have the highest overall population in the United States. It would also come as no surprise that it seems that as a population increases, their homeless population increases while smaller states with smaller populations maintain a lower level of homelessness.
Bold Faith Movement operates in the state of Florida and it was a revelation traveling through certain parts of Broward County and Dade County to find such huge homeless populations. We knew that there were homeless people in the state but we honestly did not know that there were that much until we had given out 100 care packages in one area only (We thought we would have enough but we were so wrong!). In Florida alone, there are 28,328 homeless on any given day.
What is Homelessness?
We know that it may seem superfluous but let's do a quick breakdown on what homelessness is. Homelessness is the state of having no home but it really is more than that. Homelessness also means significantly less access to clean water, healthy (fresh) food, clean clothes, job opportunities and things that we take for granted like technology and education.
Types of Homelessness
There are 3 main types of homelessness that people experience. Just as every individual experiences different levels of wealth, people experience different levels of homelessness. These 3 types/levels of homelessness are transitional homelessness, episodic homelessness, and chronic homelessness. Transitional homelessness is as it sounds. These are people who are homeless for one short period of time because of a financial setback, crisis, or an unforeseen event that took place in their lives. This type of homelessness is the most common. Episodic homelessness is when a person has on and off periods (at least 3 periods) of homelessness throughout a year. This type of homelessness can be triggered by other factors such as disabilities, mental illness, medical problems, and substance abuse. The last type of homelessness is chronic homelessness. Chronic homelessness is when a person has been homeless for at least a year or have frequent episodes of homelessness due to long-term conditions such as the ones listed for episodic homelessness. However, with chronic homelessness, the factors of disabilities, mental illness, medical problems, and substance abuse are much more severe in that they find it difficult to find and maintain housing for themselves.
What the Bible says about Homelessness
There are many Bible verses that speak on the poor, the oppressed, and destitute but Matthew 25:35-40 speaks to the culmination of them all:
"For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
What can we do in the fight against homelessness?
In a nation where we have so many resources, 567,715 homeless in our own back yard is too many. There are many ways that you can help in the fight against homelessness. It can be by giving your time, money, or resources to do the work on the streets yourself or help others do the work. As we all lead busy lives, it is difficult sometimes to take time to volunteer but that would be our very first recommendation. Donation of your time. It is one thing to donate money but it is truly another thing to see homelessness and the effects of poverty on the people in your nearby community or neighborhood. We'd encourage you, even if it is a one-time event to volunteer your time to an organization that helps feed the homeless. Seeing it for yourself is life changing. After you've experienced it for yourself, there are several other ways you can help fight against homelessness:
- Monetary Donations: Money makes the world go round. Charity organizations depend on monetary donations to continue providing food, clothes, and temporary/permanent shelter among other things for the homeless. Are you able to dedicate a portion of your finances to give every month? You can partner with an organization that deals specifically with homelessness and make one-time donations or monthly donations. Even if it is $10 a month. For those that don't have, every dollar goes a long way.
- Physical Goods Donations: Just as valuable as monetary donations are physical goods. Non-perishable food, clothes, underwear, shoes, socks, hygiene products, and blankets are all essentials needed for the homeless. Do you have clothes and shoes that you don't wear? Consider donating it. Are there cans of food in your pantry that you plan on not using. Consider donating it. Do you buy certain essentials in excess to stockpile or through extreme couponing? Consider donating some, half, or all of it every other time you shop or a set time every year.
- Purchasing from Businesses That Donate: Like Bold Faith Movement, there are businesses that are joining the fight against homelessness by donating a portion of their profits. Some businesses donate their profits to others locally that are doing the work or they are doing the work themselves behind the scenes. If you love to shop and do it often, consider shopping with businesses that give back to their community.
- Giving Referrals: You may not be able to give monetarily, maybe you may not even be able to give physical good donations or shop with businesses that give back. But, what if you know someone that can provide charity organizations with deeply discounted goods or services? For example, maybe you know a hairdresser or barber that will donate a few hours of their time to do haircuts for the homeless. Or maybe you know someone that provides free counseling sessions. Pass along their information to charity organizations as you never know how helpful it may come to be for them.
We'd love to challenge you today to think about what ways you can personally help against the fight against homelessness. And then, act on it! Get involved in your community, organize outreaches, collect items and donate. It all matters in the big picture of it all. Let's change the world for Christ!
With Much Love,Bold Faith Movement