“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
— Irish proverb
We take shelter for granted.
I suspect most of us will lay down our heads tonight without a second thought to the roof above us. But many people near us do not have that luxury. To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, approximately 3,000 people were evicted from their homes in 2012. Another 800 were foreclosed on in the same year. Multiply that times an average family size and you start to get the picture. The irony is that those numbers are better than during the recession of just a few years ago.
This morning, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly meeting of the Housing and Supportive Service Network (HSSN) for Washington County, Oregon. Annette and Jack were my hosts, at a meeting with over 30 attendees from such varied organizations as the Oregon Food Bank, homeless shelters, churches, Home Plate Youth Services, the state of Oregon’s Continuums of Care, medical centers, and many more.
Annette is the Chair of HSSN and the Homeless Program Coordinator. She helps get federal funding for a multitude of organizations who rely on HUD grants to deliver primary services to homeless individuals and families here.
Jack is the Executive Director of the Good Neighbor Center, a family homeless shelter in Tigard, Oregon which serves nine families simultaneously for up to 6 weeks, then provides ongoing, long-term assistance to get them back into permanent residences and independent living.
After the public meeting, they were kind enough to spend a few minutes with me (mostly translating jargon) as I continue to research domestic giving opportunities for the One Ummah Foundation, a project I hope to discuss here in future posts.
When Annette and Jack patiently answered my questions about the sheer number of people who have been evicted from their homes, or foreclosed upon; when they talked about the effort it takes to help the long-term homeless into permanent housing; when they talk about the effects of lost jobs on families they talked about more than numbers and dollars. They talk about human lives and the most basic of basic needs – a place to take shelter.
It takes a special kind of person that will help a stranger cut through the red tape of a social services bureaucracy simply so that people without a home can find a place to rest a little easier while they combat life’s challenges. Fortunately, those kind people can be found right in our community, if we just look around.
So tonight, when you lay your head down on your pillow, take a look up, at your shelter. Then, if you start to think about the bad things in the world and all of life’s cruelties, perhaps you’ll find comfort knowing that there are people like Annette and Jack out there.
People who serve as shining lights in the shelter of humanity.
Today’s gift of time … Met with Annette and Jack after the monthly HSSN meeting, continuing research for the One Ummah Foundation’s domestic giving initiative.