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Kudos and to-dos
December 20, 2012

On a single night in 2012 there were 633,782 homeless people in the United States, including 394,379 individuals and 239,403 in their families.

At this holiday time, with thoughts turning to those seeking shelter from the cold and a young family that laid their firstborn in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn, we are reminded of the work that lies before us in creating homes for all. 

Last week, HUD released Volume 1 of the 2012 Point-in-Time Annual Homeless Assessment Report, sharing the results of the once-a-year count they make of persons experiencing homelessness in local communities. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of people homeless on a given night essentially remained static, currently standing at 633,782.

There is a great deal of very good work going on to reduce and eventually end homelessness. One example is the effort being focused currently on ending homelessness for those who have served our country through military service. The 2012 count includes a 7 percent decline in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness to 62,619. For a really good understanding of this issue in our region, take the time to view a great video recently produced by Carol Zierman at Heading Home Ramsey.

Decreasing chronic homelessness has been another major focus of national efforts to end homelessness. 

Chronic homelessness refers to those who have been homeless for a year or more, or who have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness within the last three years.  Many of our tenants at Lydia Apartments meet this HUD definition of chronic homelessness. The point-in-time report notes that there has been a 19.3 percent decrease in chronic homelessness since 2007.

With talk of the looming fiscal cliff, we who are working to end homelessness need to raise our voices to protect funding for the critical programs that helped make this progress possible. Investment in safe, decent and affordable housing, as well as supportive housing, not only ends homelessness, but also improves child well-being, improves health, lowers crime and increases employment access and stability.  And, it’s just the right thing to do.

-        Jenny Mason