IT IS YET another cold chilly morning in the US, the country that houses 553,000 individuals on her streets. Everyone is wrapped up like a Banana Plantain and looks like an Eskimo in Alaska. If the winds could tell, how many layers of clothing one harbors inside, she would be able to carry so much away.
The usual cheery sunny smiles are gone, replaced by frozen lips and stiff faces. It is hard to recognize even the people you know. People greet each other with quick gecko nods, that is if time will allow or simply through two teary eyes squinting in the hood.
In Philadelphia, the pavements are slippery with sleet and snow and everyone seems to be rushing home, save for the homeless folk who sleep and shiver on these man-made frozen street beds as the harsh winds hit them hard
Couples without blankets huddle in the subway. Covered in wet cardboard boxes, they use their cold bodies to draw warmth as they rub against one another. It is survival for the fittest for these individuals who face the wrath of the deadly weather.
It is not often easy being on the streets. It is a cat and mouse chase with the police, security guards and shop owners who do not want poor images in front of the buildings.
It is therefore not strange to find a homeless individual sneaking into a train and riding to nowhere, just to get one out of 40 winks.
It is a common sight, heartrending to behold, homeless individuals on the street scrounging for crumbs from passersby of good will, holding onto their dogs and cats so close by their side, no one can wrest them away. Not even the police or the ambulances trying to drag them into cafes and other emergency shelters.
Some of the pets have lived in good homes and the sadness in their eyes ring of nostalgia, missed fireplaces, hearty soup and bones to nibble on.
As I dash to make it for my train at The Suburban Station Subway, due in another 2 minutes, a woman, shrilly calls me from behind a think blanket. She has an African ‘Accent and I cannot quite tell where she is from.
“Sister! Sister! Help Me!” She cries.
I stop, turn back, pick my black scarf that has fallen and walk towards her.
She recounts how she came from a country in East Africa 20 years ago but lost her home and all her belongings to a fire. I feel sad that I cannot take her home with me. This is America for you! This is what America has turned me into.
“I had a great job as an ICT manager. But my house caught fire and I got too traumatized I could not work. I lost my job, my friends, everything!” She says. “I only need a cup of coffee!” She kicks off the blanket and I look into the eyes of a broken woman.
I give her $20 and walk away. My train is gone and I have another 47 minutes to wait. I feel guilty and saddened. I have joined the individualistic capitalistic system where every man takes care of themselves and my brother or sister is just another stranger by the wayside.
Homelessness is defined as living in housing that is below the minimum standard or lacks secure tenure. United States government homeless enumeration studies also include people who sleep in a public or private place not designed for use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. United States has the most homeless people of all the countries in the world followed by Uganda
Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness.
California and New York, home to the two most populous U.S. cities, has the highest number of people experiencing homelessness. California also has the highest rate of un-sheltered people experiencing homelessness, at nearly 69 percent.
Mississippi has one of the lowest rates of homelessness in the US. Despite high poverty levels, Mississippi reports the lowest level of homelessness in the country. Arkansas has the largest number of homeless veterans, while Seattle ranks among the top 5.
Causes of homelessness in the United States include lack of affordable housing, divorce, lawful eviction, negative cash flow, post traumatic stress disorder, foreclosure, fire, natural disasters (hurricane, earthquake, or flood), mental illness, physical disability, having no family or supportive relatives, substance abuse and systematic government. crimes against her own people.