Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health states, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” We gathered as a group at the homeless memorial as a testament that no lives matter less.
Here are a few dry statistics to ponder, but we all known that human lives are more than a sum of statistics.
- There were 633,782 people experiencing homelessness on one night in January 2012, this translates to a national homeless rate of 20 per 10,000 people.
- A majority of the homeless population is comprised of adults (394,379 people).
- Approximately 38 percent are families with children (239,403 people in 77, 157 households)
- And 16 percent (99,894 people) are considered chronically homeless, meaning they are living with a disability and staying in shelters or on the streets for long periods of time or repeatedly.
- On any given night, it is estimated that almost 23,000 people are homeless in Washington State.
- Nationally, during the past 13 years, there were 1,289 incidents (339 fatal attacks) recorded of what is characterized as hate crimes against the homeless. These crimes were violent and brutal, including drowning, burning, shooting and stabbing. These crimes were committed by people who were not homeless themselves. (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2013)
- For every age group, homeless persons are three times more likely to die than the general population. Middle-aged homeless men and young homeless women are at particularly increased risk. The average age of death of homeless persons is about 50 years, the age at which Americans commonly died in 1900.2 Today, non-homeless Americans can expect to live to age 78.3
- Homeless persons die on the streets from exposure to the cold. In the coldest areas, homeless persons with a history of frostbite, immersion foot, or hypothermia have an eightfold risk of dying when compared to matched non-homeless controls.
Gustavo Guttierrez, the liberation theologian and Notre Dame Professor states, “In the final analysis, poverty means death: lack of food and housing, the inability to attend properly to health and education needs, the exploitation of workers, permanent unemployment, the lack of respect for one’s human dignity, and unjust limitations placed on personal freedom in the areas of self-expression, politics, and religion.”
The problems we face are bigger than us as a community, but little actions can accumulate and have a profound effect and as a community we can help alleviate the suffering of our often forgotten and ignored members.
By William Bomberger, PA-C at Denny Murphy Clinic