Do you know where you’ll sleep tonight? Where you’ll find your next meal? Do you know where you can find safety and warmth at night? For hundreds of thousands of Americans, these answers are difficult to come by and may change every day.
After a seven year decrease in America’s homelessness rate, homelessness increased from 2016 to 2017. The number of individuals living in unsheltered locations increased by nine percent, and the number of individuals living in sheltered locations decreased by three percent. Roughly a third of the homeless are people in families with children. Nearly 41,000 were unaccompanied youth.
While we see homelessness on the street, under bridges, and in parks, the vast majority of the individuals experiencing homelessness are living in shelters, on couches, and in cars. And, millions more Americans are at risk for homelessness, often one unexpected payment, one late paycheck, or one medical emergency away from losing their home. In addition to the uncertainty and dangers associated with homelessness, many of America’s chronically homeless experience mental and physical disabilities, substance use disorders, illness, prolonged absence from the job market, and other significant obstacles to achieving financial independence, personal transformation, and a chance at a fulfilling life.
The problem is much bigger than our eyes can see.
The numbers are discouraging and the reality of homelessness seems hopeless. But, many Catalysts across the country are working to break down the barriers facing those experiencing homelessness and to extend opportunities to achieve personal transformation.
Three Catalysts Helping Families Break the Cycle of Homelessness
In the western United States, homelessness rates are the highest. California alone has nearly 30 percent of all homeless veterans, 58 percent of all unsheltered unaccompanied youth, and 12 percent of all homeless people in families with children. As a result, many S+ Catalysts we work with that focus on the issue of homelessness are situated in the western United States.
Solutions for Change works to address homelessness in San Diego, California, which has the fourth largest homeless population in the United States—over 9,000 individuals. Using their Transformational Housing Model, featuring their Solutions University, Solutions for Change equips parents with a 1,000-day college-like experience, providing the tools, knowledge, and skills to help families move from poverty to prosperity. At the same time, Solutions offers interim housing, counseling, health and childcare services, and employment opportunities designed to help families get back on their feet, find permanent, stable, and affordable housing, and achieve long-term prosperity. In addition, Solutions also provides transitional employment to its clients through Solutions Enterprise, offering work and training in housing, real estate development, and farming, producing high quality, locally grown, and sustainable produce in a world class aquaponics farm. To date, they have helped over 850 families escape homelessness.
Based in Seattle, Washington, which has the second largest number of homeless veterans, and where more than 70,000 people are unemployed, Millionair Club Charity (MCC) offers a holistic approach to homelessness, helping hundreds of men and women who have faced mental and physical illness, domestic violence, serious injury, long-term unemployment, and other traumas that create barriers to employment. By offering immediate temporary employment and permanent employment opportunities, as well as an array of support services, such as housing, shower and laundry facilities, clothing, nutritious meals, and even eye examinations and free glasses, MCC replaces hopelessness with hopefulness, and gives its clients a new lease on life. In 2016 alone, MCC has placed 232 men and women in permanent or long-term temporary jobs.
Changing lives through jobs. That’s the motto of Chrysalis, one of our 2016 S+ Catalysts, working to provide a path out of poverty for the homeless of Los Angeles, which has the largest number of individuals with chronic patterns of homeless—the city makes up nearly 20 percent of the nation’s chronically homeless. Since 1984, Chrysalis has, through its 12-month Transitional Jobs Program, delivered marketable experience and occupational skills to homeless men and women of all backgrounds, ensuring a successful transition from outside employment to long-term job retention. To date, 75 percent of Chrysalis clients are still working six months after landing a job. Chrysalis has helped over 58,000 men and women looking for personal transformation.
These are just a few of the many organizations we’re partnering with in the fight against poverty. By providing the tools, resources, and training to organizations like these, we hope Catalysts can make a difference in the lives of more Americans working to break free from the cycle of poverty. This holiday season, we hope you’ll stand with us in the fight against homelessness.