Are You Warm for the Holidays?

by  , Youth Reporter

The beginning of November marked the start of cold weather before and during the New Year.

This would have been the perfect time to snuggle up with your loved ones and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate or to cook a delicious feast for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately many people were not lucky enough to have a warm place to go and food to eat. Why? Because they are homeless.

Homelessness has been an issue in Chicago for a long time – a December 2006 estimate by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) shows that there were 210,178 people who experienced homelessness in the course of the year in the United States, and that on a given night in Chicago, 73,656 men, women and children are homeless.
The study showed 30 percent have substance abuse problems, 20 to 25 percent suffer from mental health issues and 56 percent of women are domestic violence survivors.

Ten percent of homeless are youth. As far as ethnicity, 76 percent are African American, 10 percent Latino, 10 percent Caucasian and 6 percent Asian. Homelessness is affecting Chicago greatly and the news reports that it isn’t safe for anyone to be outside in cold temperatures, not even animals.
I became more curious as to see what is being done about homelessness in Chicago.

I called CCH and spoke to a woman named Ann Bowey who said, “They are working hard to get more homeless people help.” I also interviewed Samir Goswami, who worked for the CCH for nine years and was the associate director of policy for the coalition.
“I lobbied around to make sure that there were more state funds for job opportunities and housing,” he said.
I asked if he sees a lot of homeless children.
“Yes, a lot of moms also,” he said. “There are moms with their babies that are homeless and a lot of youth, an estimate of 25,000.”
I asked what bad things and good things he has seen among homeless people.
“One of the good things I’ve seen is that they all have hope,” he said. “The bad things are the horrible living conditions and a lot of discrimination towards them, they feel like they are invisible and left out of society.”
I asked if any homeless people are trying to change their lives and make them better.
“Yes, but it’s up to the rest of us to make sure that they have access to jobs, freedom to walk the streets with no discrimination and affordable low income housing,” he said.
I said, “In our society you always hear that homeless people put themselves in that situation, do you think they deserve a chance to start over?”
“First, that’s a mischaracterization,” he said. “Some of us are just luckier than others. Minimum wage in Chicago is $7.50 an hour. There’s no way you can get an apartment making that wage. No one deserves to be homeless.”
While watching the news I saw CCH marching in the cold holding signs demanding more low income housing.

CCH says homelessness is caused by a complicated set of factors from the critical shortage of affordable housing and living wage jobs to our society’s lack of care for people experiencing homelessness.
In my opinion, I believe this is true. Homelessness is a serious issue and everyone should try to have some part in helping to prevent it because you never know when you could be the one needing help.

There were veterans fighting in Vietnam and Iraq for our country who are homeless and need immediate attention.

The CCH has a team of great strength and I wish them the best of luck in their race to end homelessness.

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