Chicanos Por La Causa
50 Years of Empowerment



Nov 3, 2017

What it means. How you can help.

by Jonae Harrison, CPLC Policy Analyst

I. What it is.

Shelter. One of humankind’s most basic needs, alongside water and food.

For such a basic need, however, too many experience its absence—homelessness. Homelessness is more than the man holding a sign on a street corner or sleeping in a park. The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) outlines four categories of homelessness:

Most forms of homelessness are the types we may never notice: the coworker whose family has been evicted and is staying with relatives and friends, a young student living out of her car, a child forced out of the home by an abusive parent.

The definition varies, but the need itself remains fundamental and too elusive for many.

In Arizona alone, the Department of Economic Security found that 8,684 people experienced homelessness at any given point in time in 2016. In New Mexico, the number was 2,263, and Nevada reported 7,845 homeless in 2015. Included in these statistics are our nation’s most vulnerable: children and veterans.

Unfortunately, the consequences of even temporary homelessness are very real. Although it may not command the same attention, homelessness is as serious a gateway as hot topics like marijuana or opioids. The lack of fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime housing becomes a vicious cycle in which housing remains harder to attain, education stretches further out of reach, and payment for health and other basic necessities (like clothing) is nearly impossible.

The lack of permanent housing also becomes the root cause of other problematic health conditions.2 Failure to meet this basic need leads to increased mortality, chronic health conditions, mental illness, and substance use, among other issues.

Homelessness impacts our families and our community by robbing us of great leaders and contributors. It snuffs the light from those children who have yet to begin their journey, and it conceals the light of those who have given their freedom to protect ours.

Pay attention, familia. Homelessness can be a silent killer of people and potential—the ones you see, and the ones you do not.

II. How you can help.

The most effective cure for homelessness is simple: housing.

A widely used practice to address homelessness is Housing First. Unlike programs which require clients to go through a series of steps before gaining access to housing, Housing First prioritizes permanent housing, which serves as a foundation for individuals to improve their quality of life and pursue their personal goals.

Many Housing First programs offer (not require) additional supportive services which minimize behaviors that lead back to homelessness.

CPLC provides services to address or avoid homelessness, including multiple Housing First models, in four specific populations:

Like what you read?

Please join CPLC in combatting homelessness by donating to support our Permanent Supportive Housing program. Be sure to specify "Homelessness / Housing First" under the "Donation Applied To" category on our Donate page.

Donations to CPLC are eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit for Contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations—meaning you can donate now and receive up to $400 ($800 for couples) of your donation back at tax time, either by reducing the amount you owe or increasing your refund.