For many, the term homeless conjures up an image of middle-aged alcoholic and unemployable males sleeping on park benches, in doorways, and on sidewalks.
The reality, however, is homelessness affects all of our humanity.
Families are homeless. Many babies go from the hospital into the shelter system, never knowing what it is like to go home. Women are another subgroup of the homeless.
Individuals with mental illness, alcohol or drug addictions are homeless. The elderly are homeless. The disabled are homeless.
The number of homeless Americans is large and growing larger. The exact number is unknown, but estimates range from 250,000 to over 3 million people.
One factor that contributes to homelessness is lack of affordable and decent housing.
In the late 1970’s, Phoenix demolished 4000 inexpensive hotel rooms in the downtown area that were occupied by people who could not affort other housing. What happened to those people? Where did they go to live? A guess would be, on the street.
An estimated 25 to 50% of the homeless are thought to suffer from serious and chronic forms of mental illness.