The issue of homelessness spreads far and wide, not just across our country but in the world. Keene, New Hampshire, is no exception, with homeless populations being quite prevalent for the small city that it is. All one has to do is take a walk up and down Main Street and see how close to home this issue really is.
Most homeless shelters will say volunteers are always welcome, and in setting aside the time to volunteer, one can directly give back and aid others who need it most. The Hundred Nights homeless shelter located in downtown Keene welcomes volunteers. The shelter operates during the duration of the 100 coldest nights of the winter season, offering a warm place for those in need.
Also, aside from giving either time or money, it’s free and easy to always smile. Instead of pulling out one’s phone and closing up when walking by a raggedy looking person on the sidewalk, instead smile or even say hello. Little things like that can make a difference in the life of another.
However, not one life is the same as another, and the reasons that lead to each individual’s situation will differ.
We at The Equinox feel it’s important to bear in mind that not every person who suffers from homelessness lives up to or even comes close to fulfilling the harsh stigmas behind it. To suffer from homelessness isn’t to be a bum, lazy, drug-addicted person, or fall under any other common association. Although this may be true for some, these same connotations can be applied to others with a home and/or a job.
This sort of lifestyle is by no means a walk in the park, especially when, on some nights, those who suffer from homelessness call the park their home. This way of life may not be ideal, so lessening the burdens others on the streets face is something The Equinox feels should be encouraged.
However, we also feel as though greater efforts should be put forth so this issue isn’t just given a Band-Aid, so to speak, and actually changes for the better.
For some, this way of life is a trap they’ve fallen into and have become all too used to for whatever circumstances life has thrown their way. Others may willingly choose to live a more nomadic lifestyle without being tied down to a home mortgage, bills or other responsibilities, but instead to call a different spot home each night.
Whether homeless by choice or because of unfortunate circumstances, many people go without what we’d consider to be the essential necessities. According to endhomelessness.org, “On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness—meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.” This number fluctuates regularly, but provides a good idea of how many are affected by this issue.
It’s disheartening to see those who suffer from homelessness panhandling to get by when there’s enough resources and money for everyone to have a roof over their head.
According to themindunleashed.com, “Approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.6 million vacant homes in the country.” This would then mean that there are enough vacant homes available in our country for each person who suffers from homelessness to have six homes.
It may be unrealistic to think these homes should be just handed over to those without one, but with so much wealth and available resources in our country, more should be done to help those with less than us.