Day 14 – Reducing Homelessness in America

As it has in so many other arenas of American life, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the depth and severity of the nation’s homelessness crisis. According to a recent study, the economic disruption, housing instability, and mass unemployment that Covid-19 has touched off in the U.S. could lead to a 45% spike in overall homelessness within one year.

According to HUD’s Annual Point-in-Time Count, 567,715 were experiencing homelessness in January 2019.  They are associated with every region of the country, family status, gender category, and racial/ethnic group. 65% were sheltered in provided housing, while 35% were unsheltered. California has more than half of all unsheltered homeless people in the country, nearly nine times as many as the state with the next highest number.

Nashville: The most recent “point in time” count identified 1,401 homeless sleeping in shelters and another 585 on the streets. But that doesn’t include people staying in motels, hospitals, jails, in their cars — or those simply not spotted by volunteers who scoured the streets last May. Advocates say the number of homeless in Nashville is many times that.

One non-profit organization that is making a difference is Open Table Nashville. Open Table Nashville is an interfaith community that disrupts cycles of poverty, journeys with the marginalized and provides education about issues of homelessness.

Another Nashville based charity, The Contributor, provides a purposeful alternative to panhandling, by empowering homeless vendors to grow their own micro-businesses by buying, then selling, a bi-weekly social justice newspaper. By so doing, 70% of the six month tenured vendors obtain housing.