Twice as many children are homeless today in the Erie community than just one year ago.
This year’s Single Point In Time Survey, echoed at the "Growing Up Homeless: Erie’s Hidden Epidemic" community meeting held December 5, shared this staggering statistic. A total of 255 children (a snapshot on one given day) were reported homeless in Erie in 2013 - compared to 128 in 2012.
Our numbers at The Refuge, EUMA’s emergency shelter for homeless families, reflect this fact. In the past year, we sheltered and cared for 40 more children (along with their parents/guardians) than the previous year.
The causes for this increase are numerous and complex, including less federal money toward affordable housing, stagnant or decreased wages, and increased cost of living.
While community providers like EUMA and civic leaders grapple with this problem, we ask ourselves "What does this mean for our shelter and the children we come into contact with on a daily basis?"
It means that we all have the opportunity to reflect God’s love and care during desperate times. It means we can and should offer support, direction and hope to those who face insurmountable obstacles. In the face of numbers and statistics, it means we need to see each face, each heart, each circumstance - and do our best for each of them.
It means we need your continued support, now more than ever. It means we need you to share our mission with your friends and family. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."