I started this journey because I wanted to learn what I could do to help others. But it turns out I’m also learning about myself and what I can do to help. Funny how life lessons and perspective always seem to sneak up on you.
In visiting Chicago with some friends at the end of September, I lost my scarf. I retraced my steps, hoping I would spot it, then I saw it in a man’s bag. Inititally I was upset because I really liked that scarf. But then as I took in the man’s appearance, tattered clothing, dirty, weathered - I started to feel guilty. The bag my scarf was now in was probably all his possessions, or at least the things he collected for the day. And just like that, the scarf no longer mattered to me.
According to Chicago’s point in time count on the night of January 26th, 2016, 5,889 people were either living on the streets or in shelters. However, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless places the numbers much higher. Since the point in time count only includes those visibly seen on the streets or in shelters, an estimated 82,212 people were experiencing homelessness on that night, 82% of whom were living in overcrowded homes. It seems that most, if not all cities experience this discrepancy which is unfortunate because the numbers will always be higher than what is reported which in turn, affects policy makers decisions on funding and assistance.
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless also has many resources and information available about how you can help or get help.