REFLECTING ON ‘HOMELESSNESS’
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homeless people in 4 categories: 1) individuals or families not having a fixed, regular or adequate night time residence or who sleep in shelters or public places not designed for overnight accommodations, 2) individuals or families who will lose their housing within 14 days if they have no subsequent residence identified, 3) unaccompanied youth or families with children who have moved more than 2 times during the last 60 days, 4) individuals or families that are fleeing domestic violence, dating violence or stalking if they have no other residence. Individuals and families that share living quarters temporarily are actually considered homeless.
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that almost 128,000 people were homeless in Chicago at some point in 2015. Over 50% of those experiencing homelessness were families with children. Analysis by the National Coalition For the Homeless shows that poverty and homelessness are inextricably linked. A growing number of people simply cannot afford to live in a house or apartment. Low-wage jobs, part time employment and chronic unemployment are major contributors to the problem.
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you know anyone who would fit into any of the categories of homelessness?
- If so, what have you done to help them?
- What would happen to your housing if you suddenly lost your job, experienced a catastrophic illness or experienced divorce or death of a wage earning spouse?
- What would you do?
- What would you want those around you to do to help?