Homelessness, or house-lessness as it is now often called, is a huge and complex challenge throughout our world. It is reported that over one billion of the world’s six billion residents live in inadequate housing, mostly in the sprawling slums and squatter settlements in developing countries. They estimate that by the year 2050 this figure could rise to
over three billion.
In the U.S., an estimated four or five million people go homeless each year. In Australia, an estimated 100,000 are homeless and in Britain 100,000 households live in temporary accommodation and are therefore classified as homeless. In every country, the numbers have increased in the last few years, and the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is young women with children. Millions of others live without a safety net and constantly struggle with the knowledge that loss of a job or serious illness could quickly push them onto the streets.
Imagine yourself in the place of people who are homeless. Sit for a few moments and look around your house. Focus on the things you value most—your family photos, the tablecloth lovingly embroidered by your grandmother, the gifts from your mother and father. How would you feel if these were suddenly lost? Even worse, how would you feel if everything else was stripped away too, including your job and your life savings?
1. Read reflections on homelessness from those who have lived on the streets, like http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com.
2. Find out where the homeless people in your neighborhood congregate and plan a visit.
3. Walk around your neighborhood with a friend. Talk to at least one homeless person you encounter and ask them about their life. If possible, find out why they became homeless and why they remain homeless.
4. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or community for an evening.
5. Take a homeless person out for a cup of coffee or for lunch.
6. Talk to people who have been refugees. Ask them about their experiences of homelessness.