Homeless People are Dying Every Day: Remembering Them and Advocating for Change

Over 500,000 people are without shelter each night, here in America. (More than a half-million!)

In memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness, cities across America observe National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on December 21, the day which has the shortest daylight hours.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, here in my greater Northern Kentucky community were among those who observed this event.

We met at Washington Park on this evening for a candlelight vigil and remembrance, naming each person lost.

A video recap, broken into three videos is at the end of this post. My friend, Tommy starts the Open Comments, singing his heart out. And when the camera zooms in on the last person during open comments–that’s me. So, for my heart-felt spoken thoughts on this terrible problem, see Video 3.

As for the raw and cold hard facts, here’s some awakening news:

Those of us who are securely settled in mainstream society, with an income, home, and family or other support network have it easy. We have resources to prevent problems and to fix difficulties. Whereas, those living in poverty, and especially homeless men, women, and children lack these resources.

Think about the last time you caught a miserable cold. For me, I bought cold medicine at the nearest drug store, and took sick time off from work, then snuggled into my warm house, cranking the heat a bit.

Then, my friend called me and said, “I hope you feel better, get some rest, and know I’m thinking of you.” At least I know my cold is only a cold and not something serious, because I recently had my preventive health check-up at the doctor’s office.

Think about the guy living on the cardboard box in downtown, or the family in a tent in the undeveloped land behind the mall. They have none of the privileges which I have. They are vulnerable to worsening health conditions, from a cold to the flu, infections, and contracting a contagious disease.

Substance abuse and alcoholism, mental illness, and post-traumatic stress (PTS) are additional factors, found predominately among homeless people because they lack access to resources and a support system of family or friends.

Aside from illness and disease, homeless people are at greater risk for other life threatening circumstances:

*Criminal behavior.  Some homeless people resort to theft or robbery to get what they need. This puts them at risk of the victim fighting back, resulting in injury or death.

*Rape.  Homeless people—and not only women—are vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual assault, leaving the victim physically and emotional traumatized.

*Violent crime.  Reasons abound, not limited to intolerance, aggressiveness, and cruelty, which find some homeless people attacked, stabbed, shot, or beaten up.

*Extreme weather conditions.  When without shelter, people are at a greater risk to succumb to hypothermia in overnight plummeting temperatures under a freezing snow fall. And are at risk to heat stroke and heart attacks when facing skyrocketing summer heat and humidity.

Many people die from illness, disease, injury, and violence, even though our country has resources which can save people from succumbing. Yet, to connect people to these resources involves awareness of the problem, preventive action, and community involvement.

 

*Contact nonprofit organizations in the community which raise awareness of homelessness and make a difference. Many have events and fundraisers to take part in.

 

*Volunteer where you can, from soup kitchens to shelters.

*Think of them when shopping. When you have a coupon for “buy one-get one free,” donate that freebie. When you buy your tube of toothpaste or package of socks, grab an extra one—donate these or hand it to a homeless person.

That toothpaste can help prevent tooth disease. Warm socks or gloves can make a life-or-death difference on a chilly night.

*Take a friend with you and walk the streets where homeless folks are prevalent. Talk to these people—get to know them as people—

and do what you can, whether it’s giving them a warm coat or clean dry socks, buying them a cup of coffee, letting them know where help is at, or offering to give them a ride to a free health clinic or a shelter.

Maybe, they need a bus ticket home to family—can you help? Listen to them, as each homeless person is an individual with individual needs. Offer help as they need it.

*Donate. Community organizations which help the homeless most often accept monetary gifts, food, clothing, and hygiene items.

Video Recap of vigil, held at Washington Park in Cincinnati on December 21, 2017 with the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Video courtesy of and retrieved from Scott Fantozzi.xxx

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Please share in the comments of how you will help save a life. This could help us become more aware of other ways each of us can help.
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Right to be Human (Universal Bill of Rights Commemoration)

Today, December 10, is the 70thAnniversary
of our Universal Bill of Human Rights,

recognized by many countries, yet not all.

 

Resulting from a shared revulsion against the horrors of the Holocaust and other wars which came before, these rights have become the single most important statement of international ethics.

It is the moral backbone of more than two hundred human rights instruments that are now a part of our world. The result of a truly international negotiating process, this document has been a source of hope and inspiration to thousands of groups and millions of oppressed individuals.

Citizen action, humanitarian efforts to help others, and increasing our awareness are our calls to action today—  and going forward. Join in the perseverance to safeguard our human rights.

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Resources: 
Amnesty International USA Human Rights Educators’ Network
An independent, worldwide, voluntary movement that works to prevent violations by governments of people’s fundamental human rights.
Contact:
Amnesty International USA Human Rights Educators’ Network
53 West Jackson Boulevard, Suite 1162
Chicago, IL 60604
Telephone: (312) 427-2060
Fax: (312) 427-2589
Web Site: http://www.amnesty-usa.org/education
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Center for Human Rights Education
Economic, social and cultural rights advocacy through research and education.
Contact:
Center for Human Rights Education
P.O. Box 311020
Atlanta, GA 31131
Telephone: (404) 344-9629
Fax: (404) 346-7517
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Street Law, Inc.
Global, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps advance justice by empowering people with the legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others.
Contact:
Street Law, Inc.
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 870
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301.589.1130
Fax: 301.589.1131
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Tri-State Freethinkers
Community involved, social, academic, and activist group for those in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Equal Rights activism from community to national level, with an international presence.
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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 1. Right to Equality
 2. Freedom from Discrimination
 3. Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
 4. Freedom from Slavery
 5. Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
 6. Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
 7. Right to Equality before the Law
 8. Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
 9. Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
10. Right to Fair Public Hearing
11. Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
12. Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, and Correspondence
13. Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
14. Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
15. Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
16. Right to Marriage and Family
17. Right to Own Property
18. Freedom of Belief and Religion
19. Freedom of Opinion and Information
20. Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
21. Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
22. Right to Social Security
23. Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
24. Right to Rest and Leisure
25. Right to Adequate Living Standard
26. Right to Education
27. Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
28. Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
29. Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
30. Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
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