Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday! Today will be the first day of 10, highlighting a key takeaway I have had by spending nearly 100 days connecting with those unhoused, primarily through the distribution of our Makeshift Traveler.
The first takeaway, and arguably the most relevant, is theft. This is a takeaway that I never anticipated and one often underrepresented in the news and headlines. A staggering statistic mentioned very often of roughly 70% of the unhoused population has cell phones. However, that statistic disregards that some people have had up to 40 different cell phones in a month. That is not a typo; yes, that equates to more than one per day, stolen or missing. I have heard stories of everything being stolen, from phones to tents to pet lizards to crutches to wheelchairs. Travis, whom we met on Day 60, told me that he had his pet monitor lizard stolen from his tent days prior. Others, such as Vincent, whom we met on Day 29, had all his belongings stolen. However, nearly every single person I have met experiencing homelessness has had numerous items stolen at some point, even those who have been unhoused for only weeks.
Not to mention, many recipients have had their Makeshift Travelers stolen throughout the last two months. We are currently pondering and considering ways to mitigate theft of our Makeshift Travelers, so if you have any ideas, please email us here.
How can we help mitigate and prevent theft within the unhoused community? Well, it begins with separating the thieves from those actively working towards getting out of homelessness. We should be doing our best to enforce penalties for theft, even if it is within the unhoused community. If this cannot be done in the community, it must be done at shelters, safe sleeping sites, and any other semi-regulated place where the unhoused congregate or stay.