It’s easy to put the homeless out of mind when you’re busy living your own life. But we’re facing an affordable housing crisis here in the United States and we’re not even talking about it. Indeed, more than 19 million US families spends 50% or more of their income on housing, which makes it pretty darn hard to afford any other necessities, and even more so for their children. Minimum wage? That won’t cover the cost of a one bedroom apartment in all too many cities, and two minimum wage workers will find that a two-bedroom apartment is out of their reach in 34 of our 50 states.
This also causes secondary and tertiary problems too. For example, compared to the children of homeowners, the children of renters and transient families make more visits to the emergency room for routine health problems and are less likely to succeed in school. Impoverished families also eat more poorly and spend less on health care, putting the lives of our youngest citizens at risk.
Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations working to address the situation. One of my favorites is Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that’s been around since the early 1970’s. Surprisingly, it didn’t start out with the intention of creating housing for low income families in the United States, but rather in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire). It wasn’t until 1976 that they decided to add US projects to the roster.
The slogan of their latest effort is apt: Home is the Key.
I know that I take it for granted that I have a warm, comfortable, spacious and safe home for my family and that my children will be able to rest, knowing we’re not going to have to worry about where to sleep tomorrow night. But not everyone has that privilege.
The best news? You can help in some pretty simple ways. You can make a donation, of course, through the Home Is The Key area on the Web site, but you can also go shopping with partner merchants who will make a donation to Habitat. Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma Intimates, all through their joint online store. At Home has some cool coaster sets that will include a donation, and O-Cedar is donating $1 for ever ProMist Microfiber Spray Mop sold.
Other companies make their own donations independent of sales, notably including Nest (who donated $250,000 to Habitat for Humanity) and Nissan (who is going to donate $5 to Habitat for every tweet published that includes the hashtag #HomeIsTheKey). You know how to support those companies!
As a participant in this campaign, I was sent a gift box of products from all these companies. The winner out of everything? The O-Cedar ProMist MAX Spray Mop. True story: My 15yo daughter is in charge of mopping as her weekly chore and when she saw how the ProMist works, she got very enthused, so much so that the next day she was regaling her friends with stories of just how cool the mop is. Yeah, they thought it was a bit odd. 🙂
But more seriously, take a moment to close your eyes and try to imagine what it’d be like to have every penny of your income going to housing, food and basics. Or to have that not be enough to take care of your family, even as you work your butt off to provide. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable. Take that energy and turn it into help. Donate to Habitat for Humanity or support one or more of the companies that support their efforts. It’s a good start.