- Be poor and working. It should go without saying. The sad fact is, low income families spend over 50% of their paycheck on housing and related expenses. Many become homeless due to a job loss, medical emergency or car repairs-something most of us deal with everyday without a second thought.
- Be sick, either from a disability or mental illness. Many of the chronic homeless fall into this category. These are the shopping cart travelers most often portrayed as street people. They comprise less than 15% of the entire homeless population.
- Have an addiction and struggling to overcome it. Most are young to middle aged men who have run out of resources or resolve.
- Be young. Homeless children have become a growing concern, mainly because they don’t show up at shelters or, being underage are not eligible for services. They are often abused or on the street due to conflicts within the family.
- Be in a family. Family homelessness, like that of individuals, can be the result of job loss, illness or some temporary situation that, with help, can be overcome.
- Be a Veteran. As many as 50,000 Veterans are now on the streets, battling the physical and mental scars from multiple deployments and years of war.
- Be middle aged-typically 50-64 who are not yet eligible for social security or Medicare. They fall through the cracks. Although relatively young, these folks age much faster and develop chronic illnesses more often than their age would suggest.
- Be elderly. Over 65 without the resources for continuing care and unable to find affordable housing on their own.
- Be a single parent. Usually a woman with young children. This presents perhaps the most vulnerable group, with the least available resources.
- Live in the city. Homeless people tend to congregate in urban centers where resources are the most accessible.
- Live in the country. The number of rural homeless is almost as high per capita as that in the cities-just not as visible.
- Be a father, mother, brother, sister, single or married, with or without children. In other words, anyone at any time due to any number of circumstances can become homeless.
Over half a million of our friends, relatives and neighbors will be without a place to call home this Christmas.
The winter solstice marks the turning point in the earth’s pivot away from the sun in the northern hemisphere.
This leads us into the joyous Christmas Holiday, a New Year’s promise and ever lengthening days towards spring.
For the homeless, it’s just another long night.
‘The National Alliance to End Homelessness-Snapshot of Homelessness.’
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