Category: Health Yourself Written by Chaz Karns Views: 1154
Everyone deserves a safe place to sleep, but it's difficult to get a good night's rest when you are worried about theft, assault and the elements. This especially holds true when it comes to the cold. Most parts of the country find nighttime temperatures 20 degrees lower than they are during the day, but some areas of the country see a decrease of 50 degrees.1 The homeless subpopulation is particularly at risk because of how exposed they are at night. Because of this, deaths caused by hypothermia were thirteen times higher than they were for those with proper shelter at night.2
While the trend is slowly improving, over half a million Americans are homeless. Homelessness was first viewed as a national issue in the United States in the 1870s.3 Since then, many non-profit and government programs have been created to help give more people access to a safe place to sleep. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is estimating that the number of shelters throughout the country is going to continue to grow.
12 Surprising Facts About Homelessness and Shelters
There are many misconceptions about homelessness and homeless shelters. Here are 12 facts from trustworthy sources that may surprise you:
- 43% of the homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT6
- LGBT youth ran away 46% of the time due to family rejection caused by their sexual orientation6
- 24% of transgender youth have overall health considered much worse than non-LGBT youth6
- Homeless LGBT experience a higher lever of physical abuse with a reported average of 7 more perpetrators of victimization than heterosexual counterparts7
Children and Families
- Just short of one-quarter of the homeless are children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 138,149)8
- When HUD ran a point-in-time count on a given night in 2013, there were 46,924 unaccompanied homeless children and youth8
- Texas, California, and Florida had 58 percent of all unaccompanied children and youth under 18 in the country8
- Veterans continue to be overrepresented in men and women amongst homeless populations9
- During a point-in-time count in 2016, there were 39,471 veterans in shelters which is a 56% decrease from 2010 due to current federal and local initiatives9
- Homeless veterans tend to be single, male, urban and suffering from disabilities (98%, 91%, 76%, and 54% respectively)9
- Just 16% of the population has a disability, but 40% of homeless Americans have disabilities10
- Of people experiencing chronic (extended and repeated) homelessness, 70% have a mental illness and 43% have a physical disability11
Volunteer and Donation Opportunities
If you have the time to volunteer or financial resources to donate, there are several homeless nonprofits and charities that are making an amazing impact on the fight against homelessness.
Below are three organizations that we strongly support that are trying to take on homelessness at a global level. If you would like to find a local charity to support, we recommend searching through the Great Nonprofits directory.
- Built for Zero is actively pooling together resources in communities to effectively end homelessness city by city. Their focus is on specifically ending chronic and veteran homelessness.
- Volunteers of America is focused on providing affordable housing and other services to those that need it most. They serve 1.5 million people each year.
- National Alliance to End Homelessness is focused on using data and research to inform law makers and key organizations on how to end homelessness. Their has partnered with hundreds of international leaders and well over 10,000 public agencies to make a difference each year internationally.
Helpful Homelessness Resources
There are many agencies and nonprofits committed to ending homelessness and offering support to those in need. These are the best places to start.
- If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1 right away.
- A 2-1-1 hotline offers 24/7 assistance to help gain access to services like shelter, health care, food, and other social services programs. Find your community’s 2-1-1 hotline | Call 2-1-1
- The Continuum of Care (CoC) program is offered to support people in need with access to shelter, housing, and other resources. Contact the CoC in your area through this HUD Resource to find the closest CoC.
- If you need meals, find your local food bank. Feeding America has a wonderful tool to find the nearest one in your area through this zip code search tool.
- If you live in a rural area, the National Community Action Partnership may offer programs to assist you.
- Veterans can access a large number of VA resources that are organized on the VA.gov website through this link.
- If you are a teenager and thinking about running away or currently living on the street, visit the National Runaway Switchboard or call 1-800-621-4000. There are also services for parents to help prevent children from running away.
- If you are suffering from domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers 24/7 support through 1-800-799-7233 and chat in addition to a safety plan.
- Other Resources for Assistance: The VA created a list of federal and community resources that could be helpful for Non-VA individuals and families experiencing or at the risk of experiencing homelessness.
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