Thursday, November 16, 2006

Disenfranchised homeless

In the flurry of discussion around disenfranchised voters, let us not forget the most disenfranchised in our community, those without homes. This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a time to learn more about our neighbors and friends who do not have a home.

The safety and security of a home is something many of us take for granted. It is the place we put our feet up, our escape from the rest of the world after a hard day. On a more basic level, a home is shelter from the sun, wind, rain and a safe place free from harassment and violence. Without the physical and emotional protection a home provides, life is filled with a different set of struggles. The things many of us take for granted, like a hot shower or knowing when our next meal will be, are only hopes for those without a place to live.

Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. This year alone, almost 150 local children have had to sleep in a homeless shelter. In addition to children and families, those without homes in our community include domestic violence survivors, veterans, mentally ill individuals, and people suffering from addiction. People experiencing homelessness do not fit one general description. They do not share one profile. But they do share basic needs such as affordable housing, living wages, and health care.

People who become homeless are someone's friend, sister, brother, or child. As a community, we must come together to create solutions to prevent homelessness and to meet the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness.

Adrienne B. Lazeroff

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