The Holiday season has started; Black Friday has come and gone. Many are looking forward the Christmas and on to the New Year. The Homeless do not have a lot to look for in the upcoming year. There will be no leftovers, no board games or late night family talk over desert.
In December 2017 HUD Part I 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) “Homelessness increased for the first time in seven years.” • 9% increase unsheltered homelessness • Increases in the numbers of unsheltered individuals in the 50 largest cities accounted for nearly all of the national increase.
In the report there were 4,140 homeless people counted in the two counties on one night in January 2018, up from 3,789 counted last year. If you take a walk in Downtown Dallas CBD, you will see a homeless person. They may be White, Black, Hispanic, Man, Woman Children and Families. As the 2017 AHAR reflects, homelessness does not discriminate.
For many of us this has been a challenging year, but being Homeless is about a challenging day just to be alive.
Of the homeless there were 662 children counted in the census this year. A vast majority of those kids live in emergency shelters or transitional housing with their families. However, there were 64 youths living in an emergency shelter without a relative. Nearly 41,000 unaccompanied homeless youth were counted nationwide in 2017, according to HUD’s report. Nearly 90 percent of those youth were between the ages of 18 and 24.
I was at Dallas City hall this week and as I left, there was a man standing next to my car. I spoke to him and ask “What Up”? He says, “Do you have any change, he was trying to get something to eat”? At that moment, filled with skepticism, I explained to him I only had two dollars in change and apologized. He said, “I appreciate whatever you can give”. I ask him his name. My name is Joseph. He seemed genuine so I offered to get him burger at the McDonalds down the street. He said he could not leave; he was waiting on a friend to bring him some money for tomorrow when he went to the Library. He said he would go there to read and any assistance he could get. As we continued to talk and he seemed like a nice person, I ask him was he homeless and why? He said he was and he lost his retirement from the city of Dallas and once that happened, he lost his apartment. After I ask, it was clear he did not to talk about his reason for being homeless, but rather talk about what homeless needed. He said they needed blankets, socks, underwear, caps, clothes and anything to keep warm because winter is coming. I told that if I could ever help him I would. Again I offered him a burger and he accepted. I bought him a meal gave him my card, left him at the McDonald’s.
As I left, I hoped I had helped him. I told him if I could ever help, I would. I may never see Joseph again, but knowing what I now know about the Homelessness in Dallas, if I can help, I will.
If you cannot donate, just buy someone a meal , have a conversation and a smile.