The devastation of being homeless may not always be visible to the casual eye. There are signs of life on the streets: someone wearing a winter coat or layers of clothing in warm weather or pushing a shopping cart that appears to hold much more than food. But those who are living paycheck to paycheck, who are sleeping on sofas and in basements of friends or relatives – whose life can seem “normal” at first glance – have to struggle more than most of us can or want to imagine just to make it through the day.
After a year-and-a-half of research and study, the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness has presented the City and the community with plan that they believe will end homelessness in Evanston within five years.
We commend the Mayor and the Task Force for this effort. Using an expansive definition of homelessness – one endorsed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development – the task force analyzed the causes of homelessness, its financial and societal costs and has proposed ways the community can work together to end homelessness.
In many communities the idea that some residents might be homelessness is enough to embarrass them into inaction or frighten them into Band-Aid solutions. That said, however, the numbers for Evanston are sobering, if not outright scary: 10 percent of our population, about 7,500 persons are homeless. And not all of them are adults. On any given day, 50-75 students at Evanston Township High School and at least 200 in School District 65 are homeless.
The causes of homelessness are many and sometimes complex, so ending homeless is not likely to be straightforward or easy. But now there is a framework. The City has accepted the challenge issued by the task force; let the work begin.