Homelessness creates not so merry holidays

Prowler Staff

Homelessness is an issue that probably doesn’t cross the mind of the average North student, but it a problem that needs to be addressed especially during the holiday season.

Christmas is around the corner. The iconic image is decorations being set, holiday music filtering, through the house and presents being hidden away. For some people however, this isn’t the reality. These individuals will spend days out in the cold with their only source of food coming from shelters.

America is individualistic. Consumerism has created a focus on self-interests, but there are countless people who need help. This is a time of giving, try to help those less fortunate.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a homeless person as an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Anyone who falls under this criterion repeatedly or for an extended period of time is considered chronically homeless. Only 15 percent of the homeless population falls under this category.

Homelessness is a difficult issue, simply because there are so many factors to consider as causes some of which include: poverty, job availability, housing cost, mental stability substance abuse.

It’s a common myth that housing will solve the problem, but it won’t. In a study by the Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth 90 percent of providers agree immediate services are a necessary aspect of the solution.

This could include commodities such as community shelters, soup kitchens, support to complete a public education. or job search assistance.

Services such as Medicaid were crucial in slowing homeless at the state level, but an update to the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in 2015 which offered guidance to communities in planning systems, measuring progress and providing housing assistance was also vital toward the recent declines in homelessness. These are both steps in the right direction, but it is not enough.

Illinois has seen a significant drop in homelessness between 2015 and 2016 at 12 percent (1,587 People) according to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Regardless, there is still work to be done with 11,590 still in need of a permanent home.

The Daybreak Shelter in Joliet is one of several service providers in the state. It offers outreach programs for needy families during the holidays including those in will county. One program is the giving tree much like the one we have at North. Donors buy gifts for the low income families they are paired with.

There are 38 homeless shelters in the Plainfield area they are always in need of toiletries and especially now, hats, gloves and coats. So as people shuffle around in old clothing consider donating gently used winter gear.

If someone is doing a collection outside the store throw a few coins in, contributions don’t have to be major.

Food pantries are always in need of donations and if someone can’t provide the food why not serve it in the soup kitchens?

Remember, just because December ends doesn’t mean the needy disappear. The man who needed a hot meal yesterday still needs one today.

Selflessness needs to continue after holidays. If someone has the time or capability to, they should help.

There are ways to have an impact on this issue, just on a smaller scale. Go out into the community, donate when possible and volunteer. Even if the effect can’t be seen immediately, each action is helping someone.