By Amy Pohl
Violence Free Colorado Staff and Blogger
November is Homelessness Awareness Month, and with the cold weather moving into Colorado, there is no better time to be thinking about how we can better address the issue of homelessness in our communities.
The issues of domestic violence and homelessness are inextricably linked. Domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness for women and children. A staggering 92 percent of women who are homeless report having experienced severe physical and/or sexual assault at some point in their lives. Approximately 50 percent of all women who are homeless report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. Still other studies suggest that many women experiencing homelessness are survivors of domestic violence, even if it’s not the cause of their homelessness. Domestic violence survivors are routinely met with discrimination when finding new housing; a lack of affordable housing and housing assistance further limits their options.
But something occurred to me when I read this quote today: “Whatever form it takes, home should provide a protection, shelter, security, and comfort- in addition to a place to sleep.” I thought to myself that if this is something we truly believe, then many victims of domestic violence find themselves “homeless” long before they ever leave their houses, apartments, etc. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, yet most victims of domestic violence do not have a safe home to go to each day, in which to raise their children, in which to find comfort.
The quote goes on, “Home should not be a place that people have to worry about being destroyed easily or losing to circumstances beyond their control… A place to sleep is only one of the most basic needs that people have; a home is something more substantial.”
What does home mean to you? What does your home feel like? What would it feel like to have that taken away from you? Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, and by showing compassion, speaking up, and taking action, we can become a community where this is a reality. ‘How?’ you ask. I’m so glad you did…
Just today, a new public will-building campaign on homeless, called CLOSE TO HOME, was launched. The website, closetohomeco.org, gives some simple and meaningful ways that YOU can engage, every day:
- Learn More.Increase your understanding of causes and solutions to homelessness
- With Us. Take the CLOSE TO HOME Pledge. We will communicate your support to decision makers. Your voice makes a difference!
- Share CLOSE TO HOME information on your social media using the hashtag #CloseToHomeCO
- Involve Others. Share information from CLOSE TO HOME with your neighbors, classmates, co-workers, friends, and family members. Also include groups like PTA, churches, and neighborhood associations.
- You Are It. Your elected officials need to hear from YOU to understand this is a priority. Tell them everyone needs a safe place to call home. Here are some tips on how to do this.
- Kind Words. Use smarter, kinder language. By using expressions such as “people experiencing homelessness” rather than labels, we remind ourselves and others that people who are in such situations are people – people who are going through a difficult period in their lives.