September 23, 2006

Does Homeless mean Futureless?

There are people living on the sidewalks, in alleys beside dumpsters of trash, behind some places of business, in abandoned structures, and in their cars.

I know this is not earth shattering news; people have been living this way for years.
Perhaps because of my recent move to a city environment, I am witnessing an increase of homeless people.

I found these statistics here, and being statistics that probably means inaccurate as well as outdated:

"From the National Coalition for the Homeless: Poverty, Urban Institute and specifically the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers, draw their estimates from a study of service providers across the country at two different times of the year in 1996.

They found that, on a given night in October, 444,000 people (in 346,000 households) experienced homelessness - which translates to 6.3% of the population of people living in poverty. On a given night in February, 842,000 (in 637,000 households) experienced homelessness - which translates to almost 10% of the population of people living in poverty.

Converting these estimates into an annual projection, the numbers that emerge are 2.3 million people (based on the October estimate) and 3.5 million people (based on the February estimate).This translates to approximately 1% of the U.S. population experiencing homelessness each year, 38% (October) to 39% (February) of them being children (Urban Institute 2000).

It is also important to note that this study was based on a national survey of service providers. Since not all people experiencing homelessness utilize service providers, the actual numbers of people experiencing homelessness are likely higher than those found in the study, Thus, we are estimating on the high end of the study's numbers: 3.5 million people, 39% of which are children(Urban Institute 2000)."

Recently a woman was parking her car in front of our house and she would be there for hours, getting out of her car once in awhile, retrieving items under the hatchback of her car, standing next to the car sometimes. I envisioned a saucy private investigator staking out someone for a client. Sometimes I would arrive home and park my car right behind her; she didn't budge and seemed to be looking down the street intently. After 3 weeks of this, the neighbor informed us that the woman used to live in the neighborhood and is now homeless, living in her car. My heart screamed when I heard that and two days later I walked up and down the street looking for her little car, I wanted to ask her if she would like a tall glass of iced tea on a warm day, or see if she would just like someone to talk with. I have driven around the neighborhood a few times looking for her without success. So I am just sending love and comfort out in the universe to the lady in the little red car. I don't know you; I cannot know the pain and loneliness that are your companions now; but believe me when I say you are loved. I am so sorry I did not know your situation sooner.

1 comment:

Causalien said...

I can understand her, sitting there, not knowing where to go, feeling embarrassed.