When I get up in the morning, it’s about 40 degrees outside. The needles on our Christmas wreath have emitted enough moisture that there’s a fog on the inside of our glass front door. 

In our 75-year-old house, it’s often a bit drafty because of the lack of proper insulation and the cracks in the original hardwood floors.

But at night, when I get under the covers and fall asleep on my Purple mattress, I’m hit with an immense feeling of gratitude and privilege. It’s cold outside and I’m indoors, sleeping in a warm house.

And that’s not a reality for so many in our community.

According to data collected by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were 421,392 people in the United States experiencing homelessness in 2022. Almost half a million people. And we know that number is likely an undercount.

In Guilford County, there were 426 people who were counted as homeless last year. Forsyth County had about 620 people who were homeless between last October until this July.

And there’s absolutely no need for it.

As the richest country in the world, homelessness shouldn’t even be an issue.

There are enough houses, or money to build houses, so that every single person can experience the safety, comfort that I and many others in our community enjoy every day.

Of course, there are movements locally to create change.

In Forsyth County, I heard about a grassroots effort to create a housing co-op run for and by low-income individuals. 

In Guilford County, Greensboro City Council just approved $100,000 in funding to place people experiencing homelessness in hotels during the coldest winter months. The IRC, Greensboro’s day center for unhoused people, is also extending its hours.

There’s also the Tiny House project which aims to build homes, one at a time, to permanently house those in need. And of course, the Pallet community is in its second year.

Things are happening. But many of these solutions are temporary and don’t get at the root of the problem, which is that people need to be in homes, permanently.

It’s really that simple.

Somewhere along the way, society as a whole — driven by capitalism and the fear of poor people — decided that some among us deserve shelter, while others do not.

But time and time again, studies and data have shown that when people are in safe, permanent housing, their whole lives can change.

And that’s because it restores people’s dignity and stops what keeps them in cyclical freefall.

So as you start thinking about the election next year, think about who cares about the most vulnerable among us, who believes that they, too, deserve dignity, safety and security. Because it’s not just on the organizations or the government to end homelessness; it’s on us all.

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