I am a St. Kate’s senior and I am currently taking a class focused on homelessness in the Twin Cities. As a part of class, we participated in the St. Stephen’s Human Services’ program “A Day in the Life” in which we went around Minneapolis to various shelters, transitional housing facilities, and drop-in centers led by educators who had previously experienced homelessness.
This experience completely changed and challenged my previous views about what homelessness looks like. While the places we visited provide wonderful services, the experience made me realize that staying in a shelter with hundreds of other people and only being allowed inside for specific hours wouldn’t be a safe and secure experience; being able to have a personal space one can call home is one of the most decent and humanizing things a person can have. Furthermore, Minnesotans of all ages, races and backgrounds are affected by homelessness; no two people have the same story and I think it is our responsibility to try and help end homelessness so that every person can all have a place to call home.
In class, we read the Wilder Foundation’s 2012 study of homelessness on one day. They conduct the study once every three years, and the results were staggering. The study found that an estimated 14,000 Minnesotans are homeless on any given night. Children and youth 21 and under make up half of the homeless population. Over 13,000 public school students were identified as homeless or highly mobile in 2013-2014. Seniors are one of the fastest growing groups of homeless people. Housing instability contributes to poorer health, educational, and workforce outcomes.
While these statistics are stifling, actually walking around in the shoes of poverty-stricken and people experiencing homelessness in the Twin Cities strengthened my feelings even more so.
It is very important to me that all Minnesotans should feel valued and supported as human beings, something that homes can go a long way towards helping.