The American Institutes for Research and The National Center on Family Homelessness came out with a report last week revealing that a staggering 2.5 million children living in the United States are homeless. That’s 1 of every 30 children in America – an 8% increase nationally from 2012 to 2013.

The report ranks all fifty states (and the District of Columbia) according to their performance in four domains related to child homelessness: extent of child homelessness, risk for child homelessness, child well-being, and state policy and planning. As you can see in the infographic below, Washington ranks fairly high in child well-being and policy and planning, but middle-of-pack when it comes to risk factors for homlessness, and low in extent of child homelessness due to our very high number of homeless children.

Washington-Child-Homelessness-2014-infographic

 

So, what can we do as people of faith? The report points to the need for safe, affordable housing and for wrap-around services and support for parents and children in order for families to get back on their feet and establish housing stability. This is where the faith community comes in. With a huge shortage of affordable housing, we need landlords willing to take a chance on tenants with higher barriers. We need faith communities and congregations to take the leap and walk with families who are working to transition out of homelessness.

Today, families make up 37% of the homeless population and millions of children are living without stability and without a place to call home. Read the full report to dig deeper into the causes and state of child and family homelessness.

To become part of the solution in King County (if you are or if you know a landlord), find out more about the new One Home Campaign, a local effort to develop new partnerships between nonprofits and landlords to expand housing options for formerly homeless individuals and families. Visit the One Home site at onehomekc.org.

Image: “Sentenced to One Year in School,” courtesy of adwriter, under a Creative Commons license on Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic.

2 comments

  1. I see over and over again that the government says that they cannot solve this problem alone and that the faith community must step up and fill the gap. That is just not going to happen. I am not saying that the faith community will not help, what I am saying is that the faith community is not organized appropriately nor does it have the resources to solve this problem in any kind of meaningful way.

    Let’s look at resources first. The Federal Government allocates $360 billion into social services. This amount does not include state and local spending in this area. Private giving buy the faith community AND ALL OTHERS constitutes $29 billion, or less than 8% of what the feds spend. If the federal government cannot afford to solve homelessness, how can anyone think that private faith giving can fill the void?

    The second issue is the structure of the faith community, or more accurately the lack of structure to the faith community. Many people seem to think the faith community is a small set of entities organized like a business and driven top down. The reality is that the faith community is more like a mob of people with overlapping interests. Getting something done in the faith community does not mean convincing a denomination or even an individual church to step up. It means finding an individual in a church who is willing to step up, lead a charge and convince others in their faith community to participate with them.

    The equivalent of getting the faith community on-board is no different than convincing individuals out of the general population to solve this problem and to do it without any financial or political backing.

    I think we should stop deluding ourselves by tilting at the faith windmill and realize that this is a huge societal issue no smaller than civil rights. The reality is that most people that are not homeless view people that are homeless as less than human and with less rights than the rest of us. Look no further than tent city to test my declaration. Here are a group of people with nowhere to live and instead of embracing and solving that problem we force them to move from one place to another because, quite frankly, it is illegal to be homeless. If we really want to reduce or end homelessness we have to first address our biases and our laws.

    Mark Waldin
    Program Director
    South Snohomish County Emergency Cold Weather Shelter

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