Homelessness is real

Alyssa Klein , Guest Reporter

There are a lot of homeless people on the streets of Altoona and in the world. There are two percent of people who are without homes. The homeless population for Pennsylvania alone is over 15,000 people. There are about forty-thousand veterans experiencing homelessness presently.

There are many causes of this predicament. Lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, mental illness and substance abuse, along with the lack of services people need contribute to the homeless problem. There are also many homeless children. These children can suffer from learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral issues, anxiety, depression, and other problems. People who are homeless experience situations such as assault, violence, separation and various other hardships. Some of these people suffer from extreme illnesses.

There are many ways we can help homeless people. Here are a few: volunteer our time, assist with fundraising, make donations such as food, clothing and other items. Responding with kindness and compassion can be helpful too. Most homeless people have a life expectancy of fifty years old. 

There are hundreds of thousands of people who struggle with living paycheck to paycheck who can become homeless at any time if they lose their jobs. For example, if a person’s car were to break down, and they didn’t have sufficient funds for repairs, it could send them into a life spiral leading to them being without a home. 

In recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic has raised the population of homeless people due to the increase in unemployment.

Men are more likely to become homeless than women. 

Also, there are many people who are released from prison with nowhere to go. As a result, they become homeless. Sometimes they get back into their old habits and get sent back to prison. There are many people without a place to live who commit crimes just so they have a meal in their stomach and so they don’t have to sleep on the streets. If you know someone who is struggling with homelessness, there is a 2-1-1 community helpline available. 

I drive up and down the streets of Altoona every day. I see multiple people standing on the side of the road with signs that say things from anything will help them to them trying to seek a job. This is not just a big city problem.  Look around.