Number of Homeless Exceeds Available Resources

By Alex Kartheiser

On any given night, there are 643,067 people experiencing
homelessness in the United States. In Massachusetts, 17,501 people are homeless – an increase from 2011’s total of 16,664. Sadly, homelessness is not going away anytime soon. Communities are struggling with a shortage of resources to meet the increased need for emergency shelter and housing. Abby’s House works not just to provide a solution to homelessness, but to end the cycle of homelessness in the lives of women and children who walk through our doors.
People become homeless for various and unique reasons. Factors that contribute to homelessness include abusive relationships, loss of
employment, loss of stable living arrangements, lack of education,
and lack of resources within their community. One of the major factors contributing to homelessness across the United States, especially in
the last few years, is the lack of affordable housing. With an increase
of Americans experiencing economic problems — including foreclosures and unemployment across the nation — the gap between the need and availability of affordable housing is at an all-time high. In Worcester alone, we need an additional 12,000 units of affordable housing to
accommodate all eligible residents. At the Worcester Housing
Authority, the waiting list is eight years long.
Many of the women who arrive at Abby’s House have fallen through the cracks and are dealing with serious issues that contribute to them becoming homeless. The story of a young woman who recently entered our shelter is one example of the struggles our women face. Denise is currently unable to work due to medical issues and can no longer pay her rent. As a guest at Abby’s House, she has found stability, a place to regroup, to take care
of her medical problems, and when she is feeling better, find a job.
Robin, who is in her late 30s has recently fled a domestic violence
situation. She has 2 school aged children. Because her husband was the source of financial support within the household, she finds herself in a position that many women find themselves in after leaving an abusive relationship; she has no employment, no health insurance and limited resources. With the encouragement of her advocate she applies for work daily, has her name on the list for housing, and has applied for health insurance. She has been able to find comfort in the safety net that Abby’s provides.
The reality is homelessness is not going away. The experiences of the women who come through Abby’s doors are more complex and the needs are greater than ever. Although resources are available in our community, they are limited and the barriers can be overwhelming. Abby’s House strives to offer each woman not only practical support but just as importantly encourages their individual spirits. If you are
interested in making a difference in the lives of the women and children of Abby’s House, there are many ways to help. It is YOU – the supporters, volunteers, donors, and friends – who continuously encourage our women by reminding them that the community stands by them and invests in their success. To learn more about volunteering or donating to Abby’s House, please visit our website at www.abbyshouse.org.