Bringing awareness to homelessness is done in a variety of ways, and has become a global phenomenon. In keeping with my previous post about bringing beauty to homelessness, I want to focus on some trends that have been taking hold to make life more physically beautiful for homeless individuals.
A shave and a haircut can make a person feel great, but it also has the ability to change lives. From New York to Melbourne to London, to even Ogden, Utah, hairdressers have been volunteering their time to give haircuts to homeless individuals. Some go around neighborhoods, meeting individuals and documenting their changes in appearance on Instagram and other forms of social media. Others, like Mandie Barnes in Utah, open their salons and bring in other people to join the event. Barnes’ event, held in 2015, serviced over 100 people and provided them with food, clothing for the holidays, and more. Barnes and the other stylists note the added confidence and dignity the clients experience, as well as the positive impact the stylists experience in knowing they helped someone.
In addition to a haircut, others are helping homeless individuals feel better physically by providing them with places to get clean. Lava Mae, an organization started by Doniece Sandoval, repurposes old buses into mobile shower and hygiene stations for homeless individuals in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sandoval began the project after hearing a homeless woman’s sadness about possibly never being clean again, and realizing how few public places there were for homeless people to shower. The buses dock in different spots around the cities, and provide homeless individuals with personal treatment and a place to get clean. A similar project is Dignity on Wheels, based out of Palo Alto, California, which also provides laundry services on repurposed buses. All of these innovative services make us think about how lucky we are to have access to water and a consistent place to get clean. Something as simple as a shower has the power to impact someone’s dignity and sense of self, pointing to the importance of something as simple as water and personal hygiene to our lives. Hygiene is a right, not a luxury, and it’s up to us to make a difference and make it possible for those without access to it every day.
Living on the street or in a shelter doesn’t carry a lot of glamour. An art director in Chicago, who chooses to remain anonymous, wanted to change this, and started the Urban Type Experiment. Each week, he introduced himself to a different homeless individual with a cardboard sign, and redesigned the sign using imagery and typography. He kept up with the individuals he helped and posted updates on his blog of his work and whether or not the signs had helped people raise more money or better their situation.
While the project is no longer active due to the art director moving out of Chicago, his blog and the stories on it are still available for viewing. His work was also featured in the Huffington Post and other news sites. Initiatives like the Urban Type Project are interesting ways to raise awareness, and try to make the day a little brighter for those who do not have a home. These project contribute beauty and creativity, thinking outside the box, and the standard cardboard sign.
Take a look at this incredible upcoming event organized by the Homeless World Cup organization. Earlier this year the same event occurred in Glascow where teams of the homeless from all around the world met to celebrate the sport they love. According to their website ” The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing (Habitat, 2015)”. In order to combat this the organization not only raises awareness about the condition of these unfortunate people but creates an environment where they can pull themselves out of the isolation of homelessness and re-engage with society. According to their website” … 94% of players consistently say that the Homeless World Cup has had a positive impact on their lives. The feeling of belonging, challenge of working in a team, regaining a health-oriented attitude towards life, self-esteem, experience of representing their country, and last but not least the experience of fun is a powerful combination to change a person’s life.” Regardless of whether you are a sports fan or not this organization and event is something which should be well worth all of our applause.
Technology has an amazing ability to bring people together toward causes in ways unable to imagined. Although crowdfunding has in the past been used perhaps unjustly, it can also be used toward just and worthy goals as can be demonstrated in this story. To those who want to help them reach their goal You can find a link to the crowdfunding drive here.
People registered to vote in Los Angeles will have a chance today to vote for a preposition which would authorize $1.2 billion in borrowing to accelerate the pace at which mostly nonprofit developers build permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people.
Read more: LA Times
Filmmaker Penny Woolcock spent eight months in a parallel world, the world of the homeless, befriending people and finding out where they eat, sleep and socialize.
Read more: LA Times and Documentary Heaven
Check out this heartwarming event that shows just how much effort and thought can be put towards helping those in need in unique ways. Massive donations and food drives are very important, but in this instance we can see that even the smallest of gifts can go a long way towards helping those in need.
Homelessness can take place in urban and rural areas with equal force. Check out this report from Columbus, Ohio, where good Samaritans from the community took their time and effort to raise awareness for the homeless through a yard sale. Everyone can do their part to give back, and this story powerfully reflects that.
While homelessness is a huge problem in America, some may not see it that way. Some people simply claim that they prefer the life of living on the street and not being stuck inside a home, this is a right, but their right to express it may come from a place of flawed judgement. Many homeless people have been without a home for many years, which makes adjusting to public housing projects tough for them, as they are so used to the life on the street.
Others may not be the right person to be making judgement calls on their state of living. Sure, everyone has the right to go where they want, but someone like Raquel Phillips, who has been living on the same interaction in Los Angeles for 15 years, may not be the right person to make that decision. People like Raquel have their judgement so impaired through all the wear and tear over the years that they are only a threat to themselves. There has got to be a drawn line on when people can exhibit their right to be homeless and when their mental state requires intervening, regardless if the person wants it or not. After all, as a society, we cannot let people rot away on the streets because they are too incapacitated to realize that they need help.
Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, is home to one of the worst homeless crises in America. To make matters worse, for the first time, homeless families outnumber homeless individual adults. Entire families, mothers, fathers, little children are starving day in and day out and having a tough time to find shelter. This is alarming as the number of homeless families have soared by over thirty percent since last year, even though D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, is actively trying to combat homelessness. All of this begs the question– Why are more and more families becoming homeless?
The answer to this question is Mayor Bowser’s biggest criticism. Yes, she has spent a substantial amount of money trying to combat homelessness and vows to increase this budget. Additionally, she has loosened regulations on homeless shelter requirements. All of these are important in combating homelessness, but critics of the Mayor blame the increase of homeless families on rising rates of real-estate, government and social failures, such as bad foster care, teenage pregnancy, and poor schooling.