OutsideIn: 3,123 Reasons to Act Now to End Homelessness
In January our community came together at Westlake Park to sound the gong for each of the more than 3,000 men, women and children found sleeping outdoors during the annual One Night Count. No one in a community like ours should be without shelter. A 14% increase from last year in people found without shelter is unacceptable. Without shelter people lose hope. Without shelter people lose dignity. Without shelter people die. For me this was a day of sorry, frustration and anger.
Flash forward to May 2014 and that sorry has been a catalyst for action.
Yesterday Real Change, Redeeming Soles and community volunteers took over Westlake Park with a powerful display of 3,123 pairs of donated shoes. Each pair representing one unsheltered person. As I gazed out at the sparkly red Mary Jane’s, the hip orange Tigers and the worn work boots, I felt a renewed sense of hope, inspiration and commitment to action.
Shoes, of course, won’t end homelessness. But increased public support for solutions will, and that is what yesterday was all about. As we spoke with area residents and tourists all were puzzled by the reality that so many people in our community could be without shelter. They simply did not know.
Awareness is the first step toward a problem. You can’t solve a problem unless you know it exists.
Local governments and philanthropic organizations like United Way have teamed up with additional resources to respond to the crisis of homelessness. We’ve made early investments to expand shelter and access to affordable housing, but we know that isn’t enough. A team is hard at work developing solutions that aim to make homelessness rare, to shorten the time people experience homelessness, and to ensure if people do become homeless that they do not return to homelessness in the future.
But more is needed. We need you.
Good ideas don’t work without resources to implement them. We need to show our elected officials that our community believes that no one should be without shelter. Join me in signing the OutsideIn petition and together we can end homelessness.