According to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report presented to Congress by the United States Department of Housing and Development, homelessness in America is on the decline.
A quick review of the numbers reveal the decline has been a hard-fought win in an ongoing campaign against homelessness. Approximately 578,424 people were homeless in January 2014. This is a two percent (13,344 people) decrease over numbers reported in 2013.
The 2014 point-in-time estimate is comprised of individuals (362,163) and homeless people in families (216,261). The goal of the Department of Housing and Development is to, “Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020.” The report highlighted an 11 percent decrease (25,690) in the number of homeless people in families since 2010.
State estimates revealed Tennessee’s 9,415-strong homeless population comprised approximately 1 to 2.9 percent of the national homeless population in the 2014 PIT numbers.
The number appears small when compared to states like New York’s staggering homeless population of 47,947. However, 35.4 percent (or 925) of the 2,615 homeless people recorded in Tennessee during the 2014 PIT estimate were unsheltered. This means 925 people lived in places “not meant for human habitation…streets, abandoned buildings, vehicles or parks.”
Although the annual information is vital to eradicating homelessness, the problem with statistics is readers can dismiss a serious problem as merely a number. It is easy to shrug off 2,615 people when their faces, names, life history, and dreams are unknown. This calls for a bit of a local spin on the data.
Imagine the entire population of Mayfield Elementary is considered homeless. Now take 35 percent, or 210 of the students, and place them under the “unsheltered homeless” designation. This would mean the entire Kindergarten class, the entire first grade, and almost half of the students in the second grade would reside on streets, abandoned buildings, vehicles and parks.
While this example is a tad extreme, homelessness is not limited to adults. Additionally, even though adults make up a majority of the homeless population, a helping hand is needed to ensure the steady decline in homeless numbers continues. This is where Family Promise has chosen to take a stand.
Family Promise of Bradley County is dedicated to providing shelter for homeless parents and their children. All participants are thoroughly screened must adhere to the rules set forth by the nonprofit, and agree to complete the 8 week program. Thanks to the tireless help from volunteers, church partners, donors, and a dedicated staff, Family Promise is doing its part to eradicate homelessness.
And you know what? It is not too late to join the cause. Call now to see how you, your family, your company, or your church can get involved and make a difference for Tennessee’s 2,615.
By Delaney Walker, Feature Writer