What Is Homelessness?
Homelessness is defined as a state or condition of having no regular dwelling place – a home! Persons experiencing homelessness lack a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence. This situation includes those persons whose primary nighttime residence is:
A NATIONAL TRAGEDY
In a 2016 a National One Night Survey showed that over half a million people were homeless with a quarter of that number being children. 15% of the homeless population were considered “chronically” homeless and 8% of the homeless population were veterans with another 1.4 million veterans that are at risk of homelessness. Remember these numbers are from a ONE NIGHT survey and in no way confirm the number of truly homeless in our community or this country on any given night.
Instead of working to end homelessness, many local communities invent ways in which to remove the people experiencing homelessness. The most used method involves the enactment of laws and ordinances that make certain activities (sleeping on park benches, open containers, trespassing, etc.) illegal and punishable by incarceration. This is called “criminalization of homelessness”, that is,
penalizing people for natural acts occurring as a result of their condition. It is using the judicial system to solve a social problem. Thus many municipalities achieve their politically expedient goal of moving homeless people out of sight rather than out of the streets and shelters into permanent housing.
PREVENTING AND ENDING HOLESSNESS
While there are private and public agencies that serve the homeless and coordinate systems of care, there are not enough agencies which have the sole function to prevent and end homelessness. There are even fewer that implement this mission from a faith-based perspective. From this vantage point, forged through open and frank dialogue, individuals and congregations have bridged religious and cultural divides to form a dynamic partnership dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness in St Petersburg and beyond.
This is our cause, and if this resonates with you we invite your congregation/group to join us in this campaign to transform our community and world. There are many ways in which to support and get involved. You CAN make a difference. E-mail us now with your area of interest and we will connect you with the proper point person.
"Because of economic conditions and many social factors, homeless-neSS has increased and now includes more families with children, an increased number of veterans and a greater number of working poor households."