The numbers on homelessness in the United States are staggering. Data from recent reports on the State of Homelessness in America report state that nearly 600,000 people experience homelessness on any given day in the United States, including approximately 40% of which are families with children. Based on calculations using the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Census, collectively more than two million children in America go to sleep without a home of their own each year. This is simply unacceptable.
The reasons why we all need to pay attention to these numbers and get involved to make a difference in people’s lives that are affected by family homelessness is several-fold. Research and experience demonstrate that homelessness causes severe trauma to children and youth, disrupting their relationships, putting their health and safety at risk, and hampering their development. Homeless children are more likely than other children to have physical and mental health problems, and experience hunger and malnutrition. Emotional distress, developmental delays, and decreased academic achievement are also more common in this population of children. Many of these children and youth experience deep poverty, instability and exposure to domestic violence before becoming homeless, and homelessness increases their vulnerability to additional trauma. In addition to the risks faced by homeless children, including increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation, youth without homes are far more likely than their peers to be infected with devastating diseases such as HIV and have other serious health problems, all of which are preventable.
The issue of family homelessness and providing effective solutions and resolutions are critically important to me. For these reasons, I recently choose to join the Board of Directors and efforts of Solutions for Change led by social entrepreneurs Chris and Tammy Megison. I wish to make a difference on this issue and chose to partner with impactful leaders and an organization that has a solid understanding of the issues, policies operating at multiple levels by the private and public sector to prevent or transform the issues and the collective impact we all can make by getting involved.
Solutions for Change has casted a vision around solving family homelessness. The vision does not include typical approaches such as more shelter beds, feeding programs or traditional human services. I collectively refer to these as Band-Aid approaches to addressing the problem of homelessness. Rather the “Solutions model” goes to the core and tries to create access to permanent solutions to enable adults to break the cycle and be engaged in a dynamic coaching system. The Megison’s refer to it as ending the “churn”. The affected adults need tools and empowerment to make a change and be role models for their children. Solutions for Change creates access to the right set of opportunities and then equips adults and families with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to permanently solve their homelessness.
There are numerous children caught in the “churn” in the United States, and unless we, as a community, commit to solving it, these children face a greater likelihood of falling into the pattern of generational poverty and homelessness in the future. Let’s commit to breaking the cycle so that futures for children could be established and transformed. That is my “why”. With the future of our children in mind, be the difference. Get involved.
David H. Crean
Chairman, Board of Directors
Solutions for Change