Homelessness is a condition that affects nearly 600,000 individuals in America today. You are probably aware that homelessness is a very serious issue in our nation. But did you also know how prevalent homelessness is in our city of Newark, Delaware? Imagine the men, women and children sitting and standing on the sidewalks of Main St. looking for some spare change to help them get by. Is this a familiar image? It is for me. Almost every time I walk on Main St. I see an individual experiencing homelessness and seeking help. In Newark, there are an estimated 50 homeless individuals, and the number is thought to be on the rise.
So why should we care? Homelessness deprives individuals of the basic right to have security and a permanent roof over their heads. It takes the control that individuals have over their surroundings away from them — whether that means living in the street, in transitional housing, shelters, etc. Once individuals are homeless, it’s very difficult to get out of the situation without a proper support network. A common misconception about homeless people is that they are lazy, addicts, substance abusers, etc. However, the real truth behind people experiencing homelessness is that they are normal people who experienced a major setback in their lives, but didn’t have the proper support system to protect them from losing everything — including their homes.
Newark has a couple of institutions that aid the homeless, but I would like to see greater awareness and compassion for the homeless of Newark, specifically on Main St. Currently, the Newark Empowerment Center (Newark) and the Friendship House (Wilmington) provide aid to the homeless individuals in Newark and the greater area. However, these places do not yet provide overnight housing or food distribution. But they do provide access to clothing, restrooms, phones and mail. It also provides a job readiness program where individuals can work on resumes and job applications.
This is Harry Warner. He has been homeless for 15 years. You may recognize the Mizu Sushi Bar behind him on Main Street. This is an example of an individual affected by homelessness, and unable to escape the condition for 15 years. There are many others like him in Newark, and I believe we should be caring for them. I want to bring Newark’s hidden homeless population into the light for everyone to see and take action.