As a friend of The Well Community, you know that we serve adults living with chronic and severe mental illnesses. And I hope you have also become aware that, because of those conditions, our members face many daunting and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
In our recent blogs, we have highlighted one of those challenges: homelessness. Nearly all of our members have been without safe and dependable shelter many times in their adult lives. In fact, even now, on any given night, more than a third of our members who attend regularly sleep in doorways, under bridges or just along the side of the road.
Thankfully, it is unlikely that you or I will ever fully understand how humiliating, scary and hopeless it is to be homeless. But as I talk with our members I do get a glimpse into that world as seen through the lens of mental illness. It’s a bleak and helpless view.
This month, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance issued its Fifth Annual State of Homeless Report. Here are a few of their findings:
- 4,538 people are homeless on any one night: sheltered and unsheltered.
- Overall homelessness is increasing.
- Veteran homelessness is increasing.
- Chronic homelessness is increasing.
- Homelessness is growing significantly among those ages 25-44.
Also mentioned, though not noted in the presentation slides, was the fact that 55 percent of the homeless individuals contacted for the report self-described themselves as dealing with mental health difficulties.
I believe this foundational issue of insecure housing must be solved as a part of caring for people already carrying the heavy burden of mental illness. That’s why The Well’s City of Dallas licensed boarding home, Jacob’s House, is a refuge and comfort to the men who live there. That’s why our staff spend countless hours trying to help our members find places to live that are affordable, safe and stable. That’s why we all need to become more educated, more aware, more engaged in efforts to address the housing needs in our community.
Thank you for your friendship with The Well Community. Together let’s continue to find ways to make the housing situations for our members better and better.
Be sure to follow The Well Community on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the challenges faced by those living with mental illnesses, as well as how The Well provides a place of community and support.