What’s your experience working with homelessness and the factors that cause it? In my current role with the Women’s Bean Project in Denver I have worked closely with many women experiencing …
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What’s your experience working with homelessness and the factors that cause it?
In my current role with the Women’s Bean Project in Denver I have worked closely with many women experiencing homelessness. The housing shortage in Denver and the rapidly increasing cost of housing has led to a huge spike in homelessness. In fact, Colorado saw the third-highest spike in homelessness nationwide in 2016 and 2017. Factors contributing to an individual finding themselves homeless are varied and complicated but include things like job loss, domestic abuse, financial setbacks due to the high cost of health care, mental illness etc.
What are the best ways to improve lives for homeless people?
The best way to support a person in finding and keeping stable housing is to help them to find and keep stable employment. It can be a chicken-and-egg scenario. It is hard to look for and maintain employment while you are experiencing homelessness, and it is nearly impossible to qualify for housing when you don’t have a steady income. For this reason, supports and temporary assistance that is provided by places like The Action Center are critical for helping people regain stability. Temporary shelter and transitional housing resources are needed with complimentary wrap-around services to address health, mental health, nutritional and employment needs in order to stabilize those who have been without stable housing.
What can the average person do to help the homeless in their community?
Supporting organizations like The Action Center through donations of time, food, clothing and financial resources are extremely helpful. Consider employing someone who needs a second chance. Become involved with community and faith-based efforts to offer safe temporary housing to individuals and families through new home-share programs and supporting affordable permanent housing efforts. Too often, our fear and perception that that those who are struggling are different from us keeps us from reaching out and offering help, love and support. I hope that everyone will remember that many of us are just one hardship away from finding ourselves in a place of vulnerability and need. The homeless and vulnerable in our community are our neighbors and simply need our love and care and support to get back on their feet.
— Clarke Reader
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