My husband is a disabled Vietnam veteran. Without his disability stipend, social security payments, and my counseling practice, we could easily be among those you’ll read about here.
Each night, hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless in the United States. They lay their heads down to rest in our public parks, on bus-stop benches, and in tent encampments. They sleep in their RVs and cars, under bridges, and in weekly-rate motel rooms that are unsafe for adults and unfit for children. Every year, more than a million men, women, and children are homeless in the United States. This would be a moral outrage anywhere, but in the richest country in the history of the world, it is unconscionable.
Only last winter a homeless man familiar to many Santa Feans froze to death on the sidewalk in front of the Starbuck’s on the Plaza. It made the news, but nothing changed. Veterans in particular are vulnerable, not only because of homelessness, but because PTSD and other battle-related injuries and illnesses make them afraid of other people and thus unable to come in from the cold.
How is it possible that a crisis of this magnitude exists? It is unacceptable. The question for us is this:
Will we sit back and continue to let it happen, or will we stand up together and demand better for our fellow Americans?
I appeal to you, I urge you – Make ending homelessness a priority. In the vast array of societal issues you care about, please remember that people are literally dying on the streets every day because they do not have housing. Each day that we allow this to happen, we are failing our brothers and sisters. It is time to take real action toward restoring the lives and dignity of homeless people.
In order to end homelessness, we need well-designed community systems that work together, and we must improve our homelessness prevention work. Long term solutions such as livable wages, affordable housing, and access to healthcare are all crucial elements in turning the tide on the homeless crisis.
The time to act is now. Let’s work together to make ending homelessness a priority today. If you feel moved to help– and I hope you will– please contact me at orenda-arts.org so that we can discuss viable options for ending this tragic situation.
Visit http://invisiblepeople.tv to hear raw, unedited and unfiltered stories from people experiencing homelessness.