“Homelessness is decreasing.” Now that’s a headline so many of us working in this field have longed to hear.
Today, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released their annual report The State of Homelessness in America 2014 (www.endhomelessness.org). As I began to look through the report there it was – the first sentence under the Moving Forward section in the Executive Summary – Homelessness is decreasing.
A major reason for the decrease, according to the report, is because “shifts in the way communities respond to homelessness have primed the country to make great strides in ending homelessness nationally.” At this point I really became excited… decrease, great strides, ending homelessness… all in the same sentence! (Yes, I’m aware that getting excited about a statistical report makes me a bit geeky.)
Now, I know and will be the first to admit that we still have serious issues related to homelessness and so much work ahead of us. But let’s take just a moment (which is all we can afford to take knowing so many people still need help) to let those words sink in and celebrate the progress we’re making. While this is a national report, it could just as well be talking about Charlotte. Overall, homelessness is decreasing in our community. We’re making progress because our community is starting to really believe homelessness is an issue we can solve, not just one we need to manage.
At the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, we continue to see men move out of our shelter into more appropriate housing and not come back. We continue to see men increasing their income so they are no longer reliant on emergency shelter. We continue to see men reunite with their families and build back support systems that long ago caused them to seek our emergency shelter services.
Homelessness is decreasing – let’s say this together! Let’s continue to build on our successes, knowing that we’re approaching what Malcolm Gladwell calls the “tipping point,” the point when we begin to experience the end of homelessness in our community.