Homelessness in America: What YOU Can Do

Community, Homelessness, Life

Homelessness has always been an issue in the United States, but it’s a bigger problem now more than ever. Since the recession began in 2008, homelessness has increased by 12%. Every year, between 2.3 million and 3.5 million people experience homelessness at least for one night. But of those people, about 30% have been homeless for over two years.

When you see a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk, all bundled up in ratty blankets and clothes, holding a sign asking for money… what do you think? Do you think he’s just lazy and unmotivated? Do you think he should just get a job? Do you assume he’s probably on drugs and an alcoholic, and he would spend any money you give him on a beer and a joint?

That might be the case sometimes, but usually it’s not.

The three greatest causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, poverty, and unemployment. Domestic violence is often a reason for homelessness too. Sometimes people get stuck in tough situations that aren’t very easy to get out of. Maybe they had a great job and a big house, but they got laid off and were unable to find more work in that field. Maybe someone got sick or injured, and they had so many medical bills that they weren’t able to pay rent. You never know what that person’s story is and what happened to force them onto the streets. Sometimes it’s a lot more complicated than just getting a job. How are you supposed to get a job when you don’t have a home to shower or brush your teeth in, or a place to do laundry?

There are also more homeless families now than there have been in the past. About 36% of homeless people are families with children. About 7% of homeless people are unaccompanied minors.

So what are we supposed to do about it? There are plenty of things you can do:

  1. If you go out to eat and have some leftovers, give them to a homeless person instead of taking them home.
  2. Give them a little bit of money. Sure, you risk them buying booze or drugs with it. But they might actually buy themselves some food and water.
  3. Go through your closet at home, and give anything you don’t wear anymore to a homeless person.
  4. Put together some bags full of non-perishable food and toiletries and keep them in your car. Every time you see a homeless person, give them one or two bags.
  5. Get a bunch of $5 or $10 gift cards to fast food restaurants and grocery stores, and hand them out.
  6. Donate money, food, toiletries, clothing, or ANYTHING ELSE you can think of to a local shelter or organization. They will be happy to accept any kind of donations, and will be able to find someone who can use it.
  7. Develop a list of local shelters and food banks and hand them out to homeless people.
  8. If you keep cans and bottles to recycle, give them all to a homeless person instead.
  9. Give toys to homeless children, or donate them to a local shelter.

If you live in Yamhill County, you can donate anything to Youth Outreach and we will give it to a teen who needs it.

Stop thinking about it and just DO something today. There are millions of homeless people who need help RIGHT NOW. Don’t put it off anymore. Help us make a difference in someone’s life!

The Need for SafeShelter

Homelessness, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Crime, Uncategorized

It’s a situation that is all too common. A teenager gets into a fight with his or her parents. In some cases, the fighting ends with the teenager either getting kicked out or running away. The teen then finds himself on his own. He will usually have very little money if any, and he will need somewhere to stay. He will call every friend he can to see if someone has an available couch. He doesn’t know how to take care of himself or how to fix things with his parents. There aren’t too many situations that can leave one feeling more desperate than how a teenager feels when he can’t go home.

Unfortunately, when some young people find themselves in this position, they make some very poor choices. One young man, desperate for money, decided that it would be a good idea to use a stun gun on a 73-year-old woman. After he was arrested, he had this to say:

“My mom kicked me out of the house and I needed money. I don’t know why I Tased her but I got the stun gun from my friend.”

While what he did was horrible, his actions highlight a bigger problem: where should a teen go when he finds himself on the street? How can one avoid this kind of situation?

Thankfully Youth Outreach has the answer for Yamhill County: the Safe Shelter program. This is a temporary emergency shelter program designed for teens who find themselves without a place to rest their heads. The young person will stay with a wonderful host home family and get the help he needs to get things back on the right track. We can help work out issues with family, get the teen help with food and medical issues, as well as help establish and accomplish goals for the future.

There is no reason for a young person to panic when they are unable to go home. If you or a friend need our help, you can call (503) 538-8023 during the day, or you can call our after hours helpline at 1-866-538-8023. Call us; we can help.