At any given time today
in America, there are about half a million people who are "homeless"
-- they don't have a “permanent, safe, decent, affordable place to live.” Around
the world there are about 100 million homeless people, and many of them are women
is one of the world's most serious problems. While there are many reasons why
people become homeless, including mental illness, drugs and domestic violence,
most people are homeless because they can't afford a decent place to live. Housing
prices have skyrocketed, but wages for lower skilled workers have remained stable
and many urban areas continue to be economically depressed. One third of the homeless
in America are families!
shelters and emergency shelters, operated by nonprofit organizations, religious
institutions, and local municipalities, can only provide shelter for a fraction
of the homeless families in need. Many are forced to live out of their cars, or
in garages, or move from place to place, staying with friends and relatives. Even
short periods of homelessness can result in depression and child neglect, but
many families are homeless for months or even years.
In order to end homelessness, we have to help those who are homeless find immediate
shelter, and affordable housing for the long-term. The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, which was adopted by the members of the United Nations in 1948,
declares that shelter is a basic human right that all are entitled to. Our economic
system needs to change in order to do a better job of ensuring that everyone hasa
chance to find affordable, decent and stable housing.
year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless sponsors National Homeless
Persons' Memorial Day around December 21 -- the first day of winter and the longest
night of the year -- to help raise awareness about the growing problem of homelessness
in America. This day is an opportunity for you to speak to your family, friends,
and community about the many causes and solutions to homelessness. It's a time
you can have a food or clothing drive or volunteer your time in a soup kitchen
or homeless shelter. It's
a chance to write to local, state and national leaders to advocate for policies
and programs that serve the homeless and create more affordable housing.