The Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau is a joint project of United Housing Connections and the National Coalition for the Homeless. The project is supported by Americorps*VISTA. The Mission calls for increased public awareness regarding homelessness. Since January 2010, Faces of Homelessness speaker panels have educated thousands in Upstate South Carolina.
The Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau empower homeless and formerly homeless individuals to share their personal experiences.
It is estimated that 3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year.
• Over 1.3 million are children.
• 42% are women and children & this is the fastest growing population
• 400,000 veterans were homeless last year.
“I always thought that homeless people were just people that had no life and were just bums. But after today I learned that they are not all like that. They are nice and they all have a story.” 7th Grade Student, Sevier Middle School
Who are Upstate’s Homeless?
On any given night in the Upstate, nearly 1,200 individuals are homeless. This count does not include those who are living doubled-up in another person’s home.
• Over 130 families
• Over 150 children
• 15% are chronically homeless
Myths & Stereotypes
Those experiencing homelessness are often seen as the causes of their own misfortunes and the socioeconomic policies and practices that give rise to homelessness are then too easily ignored.
Leading Causes of Homelessness
• Lack of Affordable Housing
• Insufficient Wages
• Lack of Affordable Health Care
• Domestic Violence
• Lack of Beds in Treatment Facilities
“What I liked most was the honesty and how much I truly learned about poverty. The presentation was extremely informational and it made me really motivated to go out and do something about homelessness.” Student, Furman University Poverty Studies Class
Criminalization of the Homeless
This trend includes increased measures prohibiting activities largely affecting homeless individuals such as sleeping, camping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, usually including criminal penalties for violation of these laws.
Violence against Homeless People
An unsettling epidemic is sweeping our nation and includes violent attacks on homeless people done primarily by our nation’s youth and young adults.
What can YOU do?
CARE: Contribute, Advocate, Reach Out, Educate
“This presentation gave me a greater insight into the plight of homeless students. The Faces of Homelessness should be required training for teachers!” Teacher, Anderson School District 5
Presentations may be tailored to fit group needs; usually, presentations follow the outline below.
1. Greetings and Introductions
2. Statistics and Stereotypes
3. Video Presentation
4. Panelists share experiences
5. Questions and Answers
6. Ways YOU can get involved
Each panelist typically takes about 10 to 15 minutes to speak. This depends on the type of group presented to, the time available, and the number of speakers. Some panelists share about their lives before they became homeless, what life is like being homeless, what they are doing now, and their hopes for the future. Others discuss what they’ve seen, their opinions about poverty and homelessness, and what they think should be done about homelessness.
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