The city of Huntsville is growing and so is its homeless population. And Alabama is not unique in these changes. According to HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in a recent press release, “Homelessness in the United States was increasing even before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic has only made the crisis worse.”
The increase in homelessness due to the Covid-19 Pandemic has highlighted something we know, but don’t like to think about: Over half of Americans have less than 3-months’ worth of savings to cover an unexpected emergency. And 25% have no savings at all. This means that many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck are one unexpected emergency away from homelessness.
Homelessness is a complex problem but generally falls into three categories: chronic, episodic, and situational.
Chronic homelessness tends to be rooted in long-term issues such as mental illness, addiction, and even complacency. According to First Stop Case Manager, Chaniece Hicks, “One of the biggest challenges of helping clients is the consistency. Clients can become complacent and content with where they are.” These individuals have been homeless for a long time and often this can be a generational issue.
Episodic homelessness affects individuals who live a lifestyle that finds them in and out of a stable place to live, such as people who work in seasonal work, or who do not have a financial buffer to prevent it.
Situational homelessness refers to people who are temporarily homeless due to a crisis: loss of a job, domestic abuse, divorce, house fire, or a natural disaster, such as a pandemic.
Although the situationally homeless tend to recover quickly and find stable housing again, finding yourself without a place to call “home,” even temporarily, can be a very scary experience.
Half a Mile Away or One Paycheck Away?
Our facility is located only half a mile away from two of the largest homeless camps in Huntsville. But what feels like a whole different world is closer than we may think.
Take it from one of our dear friends, Tom Roper. Tom unexpectedly encountered medical conditions and life circumstances that led to homelessness. With First Stop’s help, he was able to find the resources he needed to move into an apartment! Read about his story here.
We want to shout success stories like Tom’s from the rooftops because they represent the WHY behind what we do.
Our mission to encounter, connect and empower the homeless of our community drives us to find more “Toms” and give them the resources and support they need to live sustainably.
Over the past year, we’ve experienced a lot of big wins. One reason why is because of the incredible support we’ve received from volunteers donating time, supplies, meals, and money!
We aren’t finished with our mission! Help us make 2022 our best year yet.
Read about our Year in Review and consider supporting First Stop monetarily for 2022.