The trend in housing foreclosures in Evanston reflects another grim year here. The numbers mirror those of last year, according to the City. The Woodstock Institute reports 278 filings through the third quarter of this year – an increase of 67 over the same period last year.
November is National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness month. While Evanston, like many other communities, has what may be termed “visible” homelessness and hunger, there is also a layer of terrifying poverty that may not be so obvious to the casual observer: families living one paycheck away from homelessness, people sleeping on floors or couches or in basements of friends or relatives’ homes, children skipping school to work or otherwise take care of their families.
The City reports that, on an annual basis, the number of single homeless persons here is approximately 400; about 41 percent of these are termed “chronically homeless.”
Homeless families seem even more heart-breaking. According to the City, School District 65 has identified approximately 100 homeless families and School District 202, approximately 200 homeless teens. While there is likely some duplication in these numbers and while some homeless families or teens may not be unsheltered, these are things that we who live in warm homes and have enough food cringe to think upon.
As a dramatic example, this newspaper (and others) reported a story about a crossing guard who could have become homeless were it not for the support of the school community and those they enlisted to connect her with resources.
Paul Selden, executive director of Connections for the Homeless, says that for $4,000 a year, “we can keep an at-risk person or family from becoming homeless.” Contrast that with the $40,000 spent in emergency medical services and other clinic care, substance-abuse treatment and law enforcement on one chronically homeless person living on the street.”
Several organizations here collaborate to address the ravages of poverty, and we believe this spirit of collaboration is critical to getting families and individuals back on track. None of them is likely to see help from the state soon, so Evanston, like most other communities in Illinois, will be going it alone, with help from private donations.
The siege against hunger and homeless is far from over, and the cold is just setting in. Let’s think about how to get everyone through the winter.