When people think of homelessness, they often tend to equate it to large, urban cities with a diverse population. However, that’s not always the case. The Associated Press (AP) recently reported on the steady increase of homelessness among suburbanites and rural residents. Shelters are packed with people affected by foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing. The weak economy and high unemployment rates are impacting families everywhere, especially those who had never before sought government help.
I’ve written about this new face of homelessness often, because it is a phenomenon in this country that most likely will not dissipate any time soon. At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we are assisting people — and families —we have never seen before. Some are the “working homeless,” who come to us for meals and a warm place to sleep because they can’t afford food and utility payments. It is really a heartbreaking and unfortunate situation. But DRMM helps as much as possible by providing human services to the people who are feeling the pinch of the bad economy.
The AP article cited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual survey that found homelessness rose from 23 percent to 32 percent among rural or suburban residents last year. Hardest hit were families, women, children, Latinos and men seeking help for the first time due to a loss of wages or jobs.
However, the bottom line is it doesn’t matter whether you are a city resident, suburbanite or rural dweller. These are tough times that we are living in, and anyone can find themselves in need of a helping hand.