Housing insecurity is a constant crisis in our country, made more urgent – and evident – during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, the solution to our housing crisis is something that must be solved on a larger scale; until affordable and safe housing is provided to everyone, we will continue having populations of people living on the streets. Despite the long-term solution being largely out of our hands, we must work as a community to provide aid for those in need.
Living without appropriate or safe housing is always dangerous, but maybe never more so than during the heart of winter in the Northeast. Despite a run of warm days to end 2021, freezing temperatures have made their way to our part of the country. We have had several nights that dropped below freezing this past week alone. This is when housing insecurity becomes more glaring, and the need for emergency shelter is crucial. Many places locally, such as churches and shelters, offer their spaces to those without shelter during what are considered “Code Blue” temperatures – typically, when temps reach below 20 degrees. Despite not typically being able to open their doors for overnight shelter, these facilities find a way to offer warm, safe spaces to those in need.
The ways in which society fails whole populations in our country is frustrating. While it can feel helpless, we have to remember that we are able to provide aid on a smaller scale. Donate blankets, warm clothes, hand and feet warmers, hats, and gloves. Find a way to help those in need reach shelters during Code Blue temperatures. Donate your time to food kitchens or shelters distributing meals and essential items to our fellow community members. Working as a community and giving what we can to those in need is how — on a small level, at least — we can make a meaningful impact.