Updated: Jan 22, 2019
By: Allison Armijo
Many do not realize that homelessness is an oppressive issue which affects a myriad of people every day. Of course, communities are aware of homelessness as a societal weight, but most do not understand the effort and dedication that goes into improving this issue. That is not to say that people are ignorant or blind to this problem; it is just a problem of awareness, but not an awareness of homelessness - an awareness of the importance of organizations that help the homelessness and their unwavering dedication to helping those less fortunate.
Organizations that help the homeless communities are prevalent in everyday society, in everyday communities. These groups each share a main goal of helping the homeless but possess different mission statements in how they do so. For example, the National Coalition for the Homelessness shares a mission of, “prevent[ing] and end[ing] homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.” This admirable statement gives evidence to the small steps taken by organizations to ensure that those who are homeless not only take care of their physical well-being but are fairly represented and protected by the law.
While some organizations, like the National Coalition for the Homelessness, view the issue of homelessness as a delicate issue which can be attacked through small, meaningful steps, other organizations that help the homeless choose to take a more direct, and succinct approach. This is evidenced by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, who writes that their, “sole purpose is to end homelessness in the United States.” The National Alliance to End Homelessness takes a different perspective on the issue, giving an immediate, almost time-permitting tone to the subject itself. This point of view, while taking a more immediate approach, offers fresh insight into the dire issue of homelessness and necessity for immediate action.
It is clear that many organizations to help the homeless share a common goal. However, their processes are different - and that is wonderful. The multitude of approaches to the very issue of homelessness provides different, but welcoming, outlets for all of those targeted groups. This idea is supported by a question and answer article from the city of Santa Monica with organizations that combat homelessness. When asked, “How is your organization working to better save homeless people?” St. Joseph’s Center, an organization working to help the homeless out of Santa Monica, responded by explaining how their teams now consist of, “outreach specialists, mental health professionals and medical practitioners.” The Center also continues to explain how they, “... also believe deeply in the power of collaboration.” This collaboration is essential to truly fighting the issue of homelessness. It is important to recognize, as people working on the outside, that nobody can truly understand what the homeless are going through. They need people to listen and sympathize with them, not just “help”.
In conclusion, homelessness - as well as the organizations that work to fight it - need to be looked at with another perspective. They are both multi-dimensional, not serving one purpose, or taking on one identity. Without the open-mindedness and appreciation of both the missions of the organizations and the situations of the homeless, both people walking on the street and those within the organizations cannot truly sympathize with all issues. As mentioned above, collaboration is essential for success in any field. Especially for organizations that help the homelessness, being able to understand the living conditions and psychological weights of certain issues is challenging. With an open mind and an open heart, organizations like St. Joseph’s Center and the National Coalition can work to improve the conditions of the homeless and combat the issue altogether.