Cold snaps can be death sentences for the homeless

We recently read an article “Cold comfort: U.S. homeless shelters overwhelmed in brutal weather,” which shared how overwhelmed shelters are and not just in the US. For example, homeless are dying in places typically known for their warmth, like Texas.

Homelessness is on the rise in the United States, according to federal survey data released last month, which said 553,742 people lacked homes on a given night in 2017.

What most people probably are not aware of is that homelessness is very, very undercounted. In Delaware, for example, there is only one night a year in which the number of people on the streets are counted. This one night is called Point In Time (PIT). I don’t know if this is true across the country, but it is quite unnerving. Many homeless are transient, many homeless are not necessarily roofless. Many homeless youth are trafficked, receiving shelter for sex, yes even here in little ol’ Delaware. They will not appear in the head count of homeless people in the state. Hearing the number has grown nationwide, and yet is still significantly lower than actuality, well I find that unnerving.

The 2015 PIT Count in Delaware was conducted January 29, 2015. These people can be in shelters, motels paid by voucher or wandering the streets. On that date, 950 people were homeless in Delaware. Now this is what I know, the school district in which we live has a homelessness advocate who reported that their schools were dealing with 840 homeless families. How can one school district have 840 homeless families and yet the state’s PIT says there are 950 people homeless?

snowstormBack to cold spells… if we’re under counting, it makes sense that our shelters have waiting lists and are overwhelmed, right? Something to give thought, I suppose. Nobody should be left in the cold. When we provide people on the street with our 3B bags we include the names, locations and numbers to multiple shelters. We also let them know if it is a “code purple” night which means emergency sanctuary shelters are open to help them.

I think more needs to be done to understand this issue. We are helping with nutritional security and spreading awareness, but while the data is inaccurate, the respources given to foundations assisting will continue to be very low.

Polar vortex doesn’t scare us, we’re here to help

codepurpleWilmington, DE and Newark, DE have had code purple systems in place for years thanks to the Friendship House. Churches and a bunch of volunteers open sanctuary to the homeless to get off the street when temperatures drop below 20 degrees which has been happening all week in Delaware. Kent County began establishing this system for the season this year and I’m happy to hear that people in need have a place to go. For Code Purple Sanctuary locations in Kent County call 1-800-733-6816.

Today is a high of 20 degrees even in the daytime, right now as I’m typing this is is 9 degrees. The windchill is negative!

packing bagsThis week my family and me have packed up about 100 bags already to give out to the sanctuary locations. Last night my neighbors Barb and Sammy Lawson came over to help. Today my Mom will be bringing 25 bags and warm clothing to Calvary Baptist Church in Newark, DE on East Main Street because they are the code purple location today. My Mom has been bringing bags to locations this week during her lunch break since I’m in school.

The Newark Empowerment Center opens from 1pm to 4pm also to serve lunch to those in need.

I also have a flier of emergency shelters for Delaware and you can download it here.

If you are able to help people in need please take the time. Offer a hand to them, offer a smile, offer a 3B bag or pack up your very own. If you have extra winter weather clothing, put it in the car with you and if you see someone on the street you can give them the clothing and also let them know where they can go to seek sanctuary.

Thank you!

3B brought bags to the Unitarian Fellowship

fellowshipYesterday the temperatures were well below freezing here in Delaware again. Newark, DE opened up a Church as a sanctuary to the homeless so they could come inside out of the cold.

Yesterday the host was the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. They offered me and my brother some hot chocolate after we delivered the bags. They asked me about how I started 3B and I told them about my trip over the summer. How I went to the White House and met Michelle Obama and shook hands with the President, Barack Obama.

They took my picture to put on their website and also said I am welcome back anytime.

Tonight is another sanctuary night due to the cold and the host will be First Presbyterian (292 W. Main Street, Newark, DE). The door will open at 6 p.m. People in need should be encouraged to pre-register at the Empowerment Center open from 1 – 4 p.m. both days.