By Melissa Jane Kronfeld
According to Yale University, an estimated 150 million people, about two percent of the world population, are homeless. Another 1.6
billion people, over 20 percent of the world population, may lack adequate housing. And we know that today, even people with jobs can struggle to keep a roof over their head – a feat made much more difficult for those who are unemployed.
Homelessness has reached staggering proportions and it represents a global crisis which needs to be addressed. At Charidy, we are committed to ending homelessness and insecurity for everyone by raising awareness and supporting organizations working in this social impact space.
So, here are our top four favorite projects and innovative ideas on the front lines of the housing crisis.
1) New Zealand’s multi-million mission to house the homeless
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacina Ardern and Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford have pledged NZ$100 million to tackle country’s homelessness problem and end homelessness across the entire country.
About 40,000 New Zealanders — one in every 100 people — are homeless. With winter fast approaching (the season starting around June in the southern hemisphere), working to combat homelessness is a high priority. The season can cast a frigid chill over the country, bringing temperatures as cold as 14 degrees fahrenheit. Officials stressed the need to keep people from being forced to sleep outside or in cars during the winter months. Instead, the government is looking to tap into community housing resources so that everyone can live with dignity… and a roof over their heads.
2) New York shines a rainbow on homeless youth
New York City has committed to opening its first ever shelter for LGBTQ teens and young adults. A community uniquely vulnerable to homelessness – and the addiction, abuse or trafficking associated with – LGBTQ youths also have specific needs not always addressed from traditional group homes and other temporary housing solutions. Part of the NYC Unity Project – a $10 million investment to make the city a safer place for the LGBTQ communitu – it will also increase awareness of LGBTQ rights to New Yorkers as well better connect in-need or at-risk LGBTQ youths and youth adults to supportive services provided by the city.
But that’s not all that LGBTQ youth can find in the greatest city on earth. Christopher Conry, our resident Digital Marketing Strategist, volunteers at The Ali Forney Center, one of the first non-profit homeless shelter systems for LGBTQ youth in New York City.
Operating as a day center for homeless LGBTQ youth, the organization helps keep kids off the streets by offering food, fresh clothing, showers, medical care and mental health counseling. The Center also operates group homes and apartments throughout the five boroughs where youths live with a supervising adult and volunteers to assist them with developing life skills while addressing their other critical needs. Whether it is learning to cook, finding a job or applying to college the Ali Forney Center works to support as LGBTQ youth trasnition from homelessness to independent adult and social reintegration.
3) Finland puts feasible housing first for all
Finland’s Housing First program makes housing a basic human right, rather than being conditional on engaging in services for addictions or mental health. And the evidence from pilot programs in the country has proven that providing services, even without incentives first, is a successful strategy making it more cost-effective to simply end homelessness than managing it.
Simply put, when people are provided with homes, homelessness is drastically reduced. A home, and the stability that comes with it, provides a far more effective pathway than progressing through various stages of transitional accommodation. And early findings suggest that the permanency of a home allows for a stronger foundation in resolving critical health and social conditions.
4) Australia gives kids cover down under
Approximately 105,000 people are currently homeless in Australia, and almost 40 percent are children and young adults under the age of 24. Kids Under Cover supports homeless and at-risk youth and their families through the provision of housing solutions (in the from of apartments) which provide a foundation for – and a safe space within which – families and their children can grow, heal and develop a brighter future together.
Their innovative solution for raising critical funding? A Charidy campaign of course! And we were thrilled to partner with Kids Under Cover to help them raise over AUD $280,000 from 339 donors (and matching donors including Choice Hotels, BuildSafe Building Insurance, the Barr Family Foundation, Porter Davis Homes among others) in just 24 hours to provide basic needs and supplies for critical youth shelters during the winter months.
Additional reporting by Christopher Conry