Homelessness has become one of the biggest, most talked about, most argued about issues of our community in the past four years. The overwhelming majority of the region identifies homelessness as the top issue in local politics, news cycles, and community conversations. We all care about the issue of homelessness, and we care about the people who struggle with that circumstance.
In this public discourse, almost all the focus is actually only on the smallest segment of people experiencing homelessness. People visibly in homelessness. The people we see on the streets, camped under railroad bridges, in alleys. The people we see when we drive to work or go to dinner and a movie downtown. The people we saw at Camp Hope for over a year. These are the people visibly in homelessness. For beter or for worse, this is the group of people we are really talking about, worrying about, arguing about.
Most of us will actually never see or encounter the overwhelming majority of the people who experience homelessness locally. There are likely over 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in our region. They are individuals and families who are doubled or tripled up in a multi-generational house or an apartment. They are couch surfing, bouncing between friends and families, a few months here, a few months there. They are living in old RV’s or campers on cinder blocks behind a friend’s house. They are living in their cars or vans.