By Kimberly King
Homelessness is a complicated issue our society is plagued by. A result of a system-wide problem that has been perpetuated for decades; it has been a challenge to envision a society where homelessness can be eradicated. Strides towards this possibility are hindered by stigma, stereotypes and myths associated with homelessness. The types, common causes, intersections, and experiences of individuals facing homelessness are often overlooked. Although our society has taken steps to tackle this issue, such as through rapid rehousing programs, there is still much work to be done. A 2020 study by Barbara Duffield looks at reimagining how children and families can benefit from homeless assistance. This study piqued my interest in how our society can re-envisage the future of eradicating homelessness by taking a deeper look at the current responses and re-evaluating new ways to reshape for better solutions.
By Benedicta Bonsu
Reading the articles, “Social Factors and Ending Homelessness Around the World,” by Atlanta Mission, and “Dismantling the Harmful, False Narrative that Homelessness Is a Choice” by Urban Wire inspired me to share awareness of what can be done as a society at large, to effectively resolve the homelessness crisis. Both articles leverage social connectedness as a helpful solution to shaping social justice for the present and future. To dismantle the crisis, it is equally important to recognize that homelessness is rooted in a lack of stability in a person’s life foundation and affordable housing.
By Alex Kirchner
Poverty comes at a cost. Some of these costs may be familiar, like housing that’s unaffordable when earning minimum wage, or healthcare emergencies that can quickly overwhelm uninsured families. For families living below the poverty line, these costs make up a disproportionate amount of their income and can also lead to poor public health and weaken the overall economy. Nowhere is this more true than when considering one expense that is easy to overlook, but that no family can live without: electricity.
By Hannah Miller
This week, the Biden Administration is preparing to distribute a $1.9 trillion economic relief bill to qualifying Americans, the third round of stimulus packages which arrives one year after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic. Notably, a substantial portion of the bill is directed towards individuals, 54% to be exact, compared to the previous packages under the Trump administration which placed a larger emphasis on business directed assistance (Long, Flowers & Van Dam, 2021). The economic impact of the pandemic has been vast, unmeasurable even, weighing most heavily on vulnerable populations, including folks experiencing poverty and homelessness.
By Francess Dunbar
Millions of Americans take advantage of their local food bank every year, and that number has only grown during the pandemic (1). Cook County alone has almost 800,000 food insecure residents, a more than fifty percent increase since 2018 (2). But difficulties with distribution and social distancing have created new lines and delays at pantries even as rising unemployment has increased demand, and the older volunteer base which often sustains food distribution organizations has been forced inside indefinitely. The public transportation systems which patrons of food pantries often depend on have become vectors of transmission.
by Alex Galván
Outreach and Family Engagement Administrator at Chicago HOPES for Kids
What is Mutual Aid?
Mutual aid is “cooperation for the sake of common good” – to put it simply. It is not charity, nor is it a way to “save” people, but instead an acknowledgement that, as people, our survival is dependent on one another, and it serves as a way to bring people together to meet each other’s needs.
During 2020, as government support for citizens remained scarce, communities across Chicago bound, and continue to bind, together to support one another. From providing cash assistance to those in the service industry through the Service Worker’s Support Fund, to delivering care packages for seniors through My Block, My Hood, My City, Chicagoans have shown dedication to showing up for one another.
By Tanisha Shelton
Mental health is a serious topic in the world these days as more Americans than ever before are suffering from mental and emotional stress (MacMillan, 2017). One population of people lacking recognition and treatment for those disorders are people experiencing homelessness – a group that is often overlooked by those with stable housing and basic necessities. Due to the trauma of homelessness, coupled with the lack of accessible mental health resources, people experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of experiencing mental health issues, thereby putting them at increased risk for suicide.
By: Clarissa Huard
Virtual learning is a new realm that everyone has had to navigate during these past few months. Teachers have stepped up and have become creative in their new online classrooms. Parents have had to balance work requirements with helping their children. Students have slowly adapted in an attempt to establish some sort of routine and sense of normalcy. However, for some students, concerns about virtual exposure of their living situation is just one of many worries during this time. The pandemic and the shift to virtual learning has disproportionately impacted a specific population of students: those experiencing homelessness.
By: Hannah Miller
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is one of the most important components of youth development. With students engaging in e-learning, seemingly trivial but valuable lessons have become more difficult to implement. Whether it’s having a conversation with a friend about who will take the next turn on the slide or discussing how it looks to feel “excited” or “disappointed”, SEL is critical. Especially for students, such as those experiencing homelessness, who may live in more isolated environments, the long-term impact of e-learning on social-emotional development is significant.