Junior Warriors for God recently made their second trip to El Paso, TX to distribute homeless care packages. Some of the comments from the JWFG youth described the grief they felt seeing the people on the streets, the sadness in the homeless people’s eyes, the conditions we saw them living in – under bridges and on benches, and the joy the strangers experienced when they were given their packages. One woman told Hailey that she hadn’t received a present in years. Another man began to cry as we handed him a Bible and promised we would pray for him. Two older men were found outside a homemade pallet house under a bridge and were grateful and acted cheerful from receiving their gifts.
The United States reports that 28 percent of homeless suffer from mental illness, 22 are physically disabled, 15 percent were victims of domestic violence, and 13 percent were veterans. Sadly, children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Homeless youth are estimated to be near two million and are more likely to be living on the streets than in shelters. They consist of runaways from an abusive home or have aged out of the foster care system. (Martin, 2018)
I hope this paints a picture of one severe problem in our country. As the price of housing and lack of affordable housing increases, more and more people will be living on the streets unless something is done to stop the projections. The threat of mental illness also poses a problem because of the lack of health care available to the poor.
There is more to the problem. Single mothers receive a median income of $26,000 but pay an average of $10,000 in childcare per year per child. Housing for a family of 2-3 costs approximately $9,600 a year, excluding utilities. That leaves less than $600 a month for groceries, clothing, and transportation.
I urge you to consider helping those in need when you see them standing on the corners. Be aware of the statistics and find a way to help in homeless shelters or provide supplies. Provide blankets and food to those you see on the streets during the colder months and water during the summer. Pray for them and provide encouragement.
Martin, M.E. (2018). Introduction to human services: Through the eyes of practice settings (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson, Inc.