homeless individual picIf I were to ask you, “What does a homeless person look like?” what would be the first image the pops into your head?  I ask this because so many of us don’t realize that we could actually be friends or acquaintances with someone who is homeless, and not even know it.  Begging or sleeping on the street is not what every homeless person does…some can afford to stay in hotels or jump from friend’s houses. The percent of the adult homeless population that suffer from severe and persistent mental illness is 22% Either way, they don’t have a secure home.  I know of so many financial struggles from my own friends/family and I always think that at any moment, it could be one of us. All sub-populations of people who become homeless experience the same needs: affordable housing, living wages, and proper protection of their civil rights. This goes for homeless youth, especially. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness’ 2011 Report “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the population of homeless children has increased by over a third since 2007, with the hardest hit areas being the rural South and California. People tend to assume that a if a person is homeless, they must not have a job, but there are plenty who do (I met a security guard while I was having breakfast at a soup kitchen in D.C.), but they often don’t make enough for basic necessities like food and shelter, and life is even harder if you have children.  And for those who don’t have a job, how easy do you think it is to get one?  Are they supposed to walk in with all their belongings, in their usual attire, maybe having showered, and just fill out an application?  And what address do you think they should provide?  And if they are hired for a job, would they have reliable transportation? For those two weeks that they wait for their first paycheck, who can take care of their kids? How will they do laundry? Would you honestly interview or hire someone you suspect is homeless? My point is, there are so many hurtles that a homeless person has to face, and our system .