We didn't know this about being homeless in the winter
Regardless of how you feel about it, winter is around the corner. You’ve probably dragged your coats and gloves out of their summer-y hibernation and are putting ‘em to work as you angrily go to town on your windshield with an ice scraper.
We see you shivering on your way to class.
Wearing a coat in the office? Same. Good times.
What about when the frost comes and you’re not heading anywhere warm? What if you’re not in an office, or class, or car? What if you don’t even have a coat to drag out of the closet in the first place...?
Winter doesn’t discriminate and it is especially brutal for our fellow citizens experiencing homelessness.
Some quick facts about what homelessness really looks like:
“When you think of a homeless person, a certain stereotype comes to mind. A middle-aged to older man who’s addicted to drugs and too lazy to get a job living on the streets. I’m not going to pretend that I never thought that, but everything changed when I became homeless.” (What Homelessness Is Really Like, Huffpost)
💥 25% percent of the homeless population is employed.
Yeah, as in, these folks go into the office full-time or part-time, clock out, and go back to the street, or shelter, or strategically parked car or van to sleep. The estimate of those floating in and out of employment is between 40-60% (Cracked).
💥 Drug addiction and mental illness are not top reasons for being homeless.
In D.C., the top factors determining homelessness were cited as “lack of affordable housing, lack of living wage jobs, domestic violence, lack of affordable healthcare, and under- or unemployment” (Huffpost, 2015).
Maybe you’re thinking, “wait, if they have a job, how are they not saving enough to live somewhere?”. Reasonable question - take a look at this person’s experience.
💥 100’s of people freeze to death every year.
But, the reaches of Google doesn’t actually know the number, since the homeless population counting system is so flawed. Hypothermia can be reached at temperatures below 50 degrees (NHCHC) without proper clothing and shelter, meaning danger has already arrived with the start of October.
2 simple ways to help the homeless this winter:
💥 Donate your old winter coat(s). Check here for a directory of shelters in your area that are active. Or, look up your local Salvation Army or nearby school for a donation drive.
If you’re in the market for a new coat for yourself, why not a gorgeous one from recycled plastic bottles? Warming you up without warming the earth. We like that, way to go Everlane.
💥 Say “hello!”. The hardest thing most often reported by the homeless is being written off as sub-human by a society seemingly determined to keep them invisible. If you don’t have anything to donate but want to help, it can be as powerfully simple as saying “good morning!” or “hello!”.
Stay toasty, my friends.
cover photo via Capital News