Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week 2020
We believe that housing is a basic human right. Everyone deserves a place to call home – it’s that simple.
On any given night, more than 6,200 people are experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. Of those, more than 1,100 are sleeping unsheltered. Saturday, November 14th is the start of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, which is a week dedicated to drawing attention to poverty, created by Villanova University in 1975. While hunger and homelessness are issues that require attention and support year round, we stand by our fellow social services organizations this week in advocating for community support and funds to address these critical issues.
We believe that housing is a basic human right. Everyone deserves a place to call home - it’s that simple. We support people with behavioral health disabilities who have experienced chronic homelessness by providing permanent housing, medical care, and behavioral health care, and encouraging full participation in community life. Complex issues like homelessness require creativity, innovation, and constant evolution to meet the needs of those affected. As an alternative to emergency shelter and transitional housing, Pathways’ Housing First model is simple: provide housing without preconditions, and then address underlying issues around mental health, addiction, medical care, and education to welcome people back into the community.
The Pennsylvania General Assistance program ended on August 1, 2019, which has noticeably caused an increase in demand for food pantry items from our participants that relied on GA. The loss of that resource has left those who struggled with homelessness and received the stipend angry and frustrated. For many, the stipend made people choose between being able to afford a co-payment for necessary prescriptions and doctor visits or purchasing a meal. Each day, impoverished individuals struggle with food insecurities and without this resource the need continues to rise.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated hunger for our folks. Early in the pandemic, we conducted a comprehensive food security assessment of our entire participant population. This included an assessment of who has SNAP benefits, income, are connected to local food banks, and/or receive meal delivery services. Where there were gaps, we expanded access to our emergency food pantry. So far our teams have also delivered more than 600 brown bag care packages to food insecure participants that included sandwiches, drinks, snacks, and Thinking of You notes. We’ve also delivered more than 1,000 grocery packages with pantry staples and fresh fruits and vegetables.
One way to help end hunger for our participants is to support our food pantry, which is used for emergencies. When a participant doesn’t have access to food, we can connect them immediately with something to eat while simultaneously working with them to better budget their funds or connect to other community supports to ensure that the food insecurity doesn’t continue. To support our pantry please visit our Amazon wish list, where any items purchased will be shipped directly to our office.