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A Season of Necessities

Halloween has ended and so we enter the season of thanks. My fellow advocates and I have been reflecting on what we are thankful for and we certainly have a lot of answers! We’re very thankful for things like family, friends, our pets, and our work. These are all great answers, but I’ve been reflecting, and I feel there are some important ones that we’ve overlooked. 

What if we were to think about the more basic things in our lives? Things such as a roof over our heads, a meal, warm clothes, and a bed to sleep on. You might be reading this and thinking, “Well obviously I’m thankful for those things!” But the truth is, we all tend to take these things for granted. Sure, they are things that we are thankful for, but we how often do we actually think about how lucky we are to have the basic things in life?

For hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country, these most basic of needs are all that can be thought about, especially with the colder weather setting in. For hundreds of thousands of Americans, basic necessities such as a roof, a bed, a meal, and warm clothes are not afterthoughts. These things are items in question, day in and day out.

In America, an estimated 553,742 people are homeless. (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2017) In Iowa in 2017 alone, there were an estimated 2,756 people suffering from homelessness. (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2017) Homelessness can affect anyone. A common misconception regarding homelessness is that people simply weren’t good with their finances, but the problem is much more complex than that. While financial struggles do play a part in homelessness, there are many other causes of homelessness. For instance, a study done by the Wilder Research Center in 2014 found that, “Between 22 and 57% of all homeless women reported that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.” (Family & Youth Services Bureau, 2016) Along with that, “Thirty-eight percent of all domestic violence victims become homeless at some point in their lives.” (Family & Youth Services Bureau, 2016)

Other traumatic events that lead to homelessness include human trafficking, arson, the loss of a loved one, and alcohol and substance addiction. Results from a study published by Covenant House, an organization that assists homeless youth, found that, “Nearly one-fifth of homeless youth in the United States and Canada are victims of human trafficking.” (Withers, 2018)

As advocates, we know these struggles all too well. Our callers know these struggles even more. Every day, we hear from callers who don’t have any place to go, who don’t know where their next meal will come from, who don’t have a bed to sleep on. While it is widely known that the victims we assist include victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, it is lesser known that those victimizations lead to homelessness. As the colder months set in, we will serve homeless victims more and more.

This is the season of thanks and we certainly have much to be thankful for, especially basic necessities. As you go into this season, remember that many of your fellow humans do not have these necessities. Remember this post and remember that we help those who are homeless. Pass our number along if you see someone struggling. Direct them to our website. Encourage them to send us a text. Let them know we’re here for them. If you’re struggling yourself, give us a call. We have those resources too.

I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my pets, and my work and I’m thankful for a roof, a meal, warm clothes, and a bed. I’m also thankful for having the privilege to help you find those necessities too.