Imagine having no place to call home Print
Making a Difference
Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

Just imagine for a moment that you have no home. What will you do for meals today? Where will you shower? Where will you sleep? If you have children, how will you provide for them?

And how will you cope with being homeless tomorrow, next week, next month?

Sad crisis

Such imaginations are distressing. Aren't they? But let's not allow these distressing imaginations to cause us to ignore the sad crisis facing so many children, women, and men: the crisis of having no place to call home.

Instead, let's make an effort to better understand why this devastating crisis exists. And what we can do to help end it.

In its 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated that on a single night in 2018, approximately 553,000 people were homeless in the United States.

The HUD number of 553,000 homeless people is considered very low by numerous homeless advocacy organizations. One reason is that HUD does not attempt to include the number of homeless persons who are temporarily staying with other people -- often needing to move from one location to another.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, during the 2013-14 school year, more than 1.3 million homeless children and youth were enrolled in public schools.

Why so many homeless

To help find out why so many people are homeless, I spoke with Annie Leomporra, grassroots analyst for The National Coalition for the Homeless. She said there are many factors that contribute to homelessness, but the most important reasons are due to lack of affordable housing, lack of livable wage jobs, and lack of access to general healthcare and mental healthcare.

She added, "We need affordable health care that does not keep people waiting up to six months to see a mental health care provider. People are dying every day on the streets from treatable illnesses."

I also spoke with Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project -- a homeless advocacy organization based in San Francisco -- who also emphasized the prime importance of building enough affordable housing.

Boden highlighted the fact that the mass homelessness we have today was nonexistent prior to the early 1980s, largely due, unlike today, to the federal government's commitment back then to appropriating much more money for large scale construction of affordable housing for low and moderate income people.

Boden said, "Nothing ends homelessness like a home."

Contact membersĀ  of Congress

So please urge your U.S. senators and congresspersons to end homelessness by appropriating the increased funding necessary to provide affordable housing for every homeless person, as well as health care and a living wage for all. These are not give-a- ways; these are God-given human rights.

And let's be mindful that homeless people are persons, human beings like you and me who deserve and need our kindness. In the spirit of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are those who help the homeless, for they shall find a home in heaven."

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it