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Homeless Awareness Month: A Seasonal, Problematic Strategy

National Homeless Youth Awareness Month is worth more than 30 days’ worth of attention. The lack of proper attention this crisis receives poorly reflects the harmful effects children without a home must endure, as those who do not have access to adequate sleep and nutrition are set up to fail. More than short-term recognition on the national level is required if society intends to rid itself of a system of inequality they fail to prioritize.

In the year 2021, it has become quite common to associate months with certain types of movements or identities. They serve as reminders of the vast array of components that make up society on both local and national scales. From Breast Cancer Awareness to Black History, months dedicated to honoring and acknowledging its members have grown tremendously with informing the public on topics they may have been initially ignorant of.

October’s nearing end is followed up with National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, a time that shines a light on the crisis nearly half a million American families face every year. According to the Carpenter’s Shelter, nearly 2 million children in the United States do not possess the proper living conditions needed to live a healthy life, as they have higher likelihoods to experience illness, obesity due to undernourishment, as well as emotional and behavior-related issues. 

Children facing these poor conditions are unfortunately affected within classroom settings. As of 2020, the Los Angeles Unified School District has identified over 15,000 of its students as homeless or without stable housing. This ties into the fact that children who lack such security are often unable to obtain healthy nutrients, negatively impacting their abilities to learn and succeed academically. 

Despite how crucial these movements are to gaining public awareness, they barely scratch the surface in finding permanent solutions. Months centered around various heritages and identities make particular topics relevant to the public, educating on their importance and need for social reform. However, once the month ends, it becomes as nonexistent as it once was in the months leading up to it. Their names are hardly spoken, for they are quickly replaced by another month’s topic, and the others to soon follow. 

Like the others, homelessness is a topic undeserving of an expiration date. It needs constant attention and consistency if society is ever to find a permanent solution in providing everyone with the right to sleep comfortably at night. It needs cities and officials such as Los Angeles that are willing to test a multitude of methods like their homeless camps, and yet are all the more encouraged when faced with failure. But above all, the homelessness crisis requires communities to care about its social implications, and want to make a difference. 

While these months shed light on issues in need of awareness, they are nowhere near enough. It is the public’s responsibility to carry these issues beyond their correlated months and to make something of it. For homelessness is a year-round issue, and should be treated as such.

References:

https://www.npr.org/2021/05/25/999969718/high-cost-of-los-angeles-homeless-camp-raises-eyebrows-and-questions

https://nationalhomeless.org/about-us/projects/awareness-week/

https://carpentersshelter.org/november-is-national-homelessness-awareness-month/

https://hhweek.org
https://achieve.lausd.net/cms/lib/CA01000043/Centricity/Domain/1073/National%20Homeless%20Youth%20Awarenesss%20Month%20Toolkit%202020.pdf

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