This guest blog is written by Ethan (12 years old), Maia (10 years old), and Tyler (14 years old).
You might ignore the person sleeping on the bench as you enter the public library or the grocery store, but take a moment to stand in their shoes. Imagine if you had no secure access to food and no safe place to sleep at night. When you think about the homeless, you may picture an older person. However, some of the unhoused are young children as well. COVID-19 has also affected the homeless greatly. Fortunately, there are solutions to homelessness that even you can contribute to.
There are thousands of children who do not have shelter. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in 2019, there were at least 35,000 homeless young people in America. 11 percent of these people were under the age of 18 years old. Not only do unhoused children face the risk of starvation, but they also face educational challenges.
Homelessness affects how well children do in school. They can have a hard time focusing because they are hungry or sleep-deprived. Some kids’ parents are not able to afford a car either. They would have to walk to school, which might cause them to be late. Another issue with youth homelessness is that children might have to apply for jobs to support their families. Homeless people have been struck by an additional threat: COVID-19.
Due to COVID-19, an expert estimates that over 250,000 people will become homeless worldwide over the course of a year. According to The Commonwealth Fund, 7.2 million people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, a remarkable number of people among this population have become homeless because of their inability to pay rent. People have also become homeless because of their landlords evicting them from their homes.
According to the CDC, homeless people are especially at risk of contracting COVID-19. This is because homeless people are usually with a large cluster of people. Homeless people also have trouble maintaining personal hygiene because they cannot access working showers or bathrooms. In addition to this, homeless people rarely have any masks. Sadly, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, most homeless shelters have closed down because of COVID-19. This means that the homeless do not have a place to stay, and they have to find food and refuge by themselves.
Now, you might be asking yourself how you could help people facing homelessness. There are many actions an ordinary person like yourself can take to assist them to make their lives easier. One obvious way one can fix the issue of homelessness is by donating to charities. This is one of the simplest and quickest options. In addition, carrying a “care package” for homeless people you encounter, containing things such as food, drinks, and sanitation supplies, can be an easy way to benefit them. Finally, a more direct method is volunteering at homeless shelters, such as Willis Dady. The more staff members a shelter has, the more people it can help.
There are also ways you can specifically help children without providing shelter. One of these is to donate school supplies in order to help the children get an education. When you go shopping for back-to-school supplies, consider purchasing some extra to donate. If you are unsure of what other supplies to purchase for homeless children, every school district is required to have a homelessness liaison, known as a McKinney-Vento liaison, whom you can contact to make inquiries about their needs.
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