On June 16, 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress confirming what many of us already knew—family homelessness is on the rise. The same report documented an overall increase in homelessness in Maryland of 26.89% between 2008 and 2009. Baltimore County already uncovered a similar increase in homelessness of 25% from its March 2010 homeless census and Baltimore City public schools reported a doubling of the number of homeless children last year.
We take for granted that a home provides a location for congregation of family and friends, preservation of belongings, and the creation of memories—all of which contribute to our sense of stability and our belonging within a community. The loss of a home, consequently, can create such stress and anxiety that homelessness itself becomes traumatic.
The trauma of homelessness—its causes and effects—has been well documented by researchers and social service providers alike. Over 85% of homeless women have had a major depressive episode. Approximately half of school age homeless children experience anxiety and depression, with 20% suffering from emotional conditions requiring professional intervention.1
Homelessness at this level is not an inevitable condition. Homelessness in its current form—affecting so many people for such extensive periods of time—did not begin until the 1980s.
So, let us step back. Can we remember a pre-1980 decade when there were not thousands of homeless people?
What would Baltimore look like if everyone had a home? On Monday, July 12, 2010, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Wheeler Auditorium, 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD, Tanya Tull, CEO, Beyond Shelter, will discuss Life Without Housing and the possibilities for ending homelessness based upon her successful efforts in Los Angeles.
1The National Center on Family Homelessness, America’s Youngest Outcasts, p. 25 (2009).