Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week began in 1975 when a group of students at Villanova University saw the need to raise awareness about poverty. They held special events such as sleep-outs, dining fasts and food drives aimed at building a greater understanding of the barriers people experiencing homelessness and hunger encounter on a daily basis. Today 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty, approximately 770,000 people experience homelessness each night, and over 50 million people are living in food insecure households.
In response to these problems, many cities have developed ten-year plans to end homelessness. In 2004, Mayor Anthony Williams developed a plan for D.C. called Homeless No More. The plan features three major initiatives: utilizing local and federal resources to increase homelessness prevention, providing wrap-around social services in coordination with the Continuum of Care program, and developing or subsidizing 6,000 affordable units or permanent supportive housing beds by 2014. Although homelessness in D.C. increased in 2010, the city continues to make progress with the Homeless No More plan.
There are many ways to help fight poverty in your community. Participate in one of the many events during the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in D.C. and raise awareness about these important issues. Contact local, state, or federal government and advocate to end hunger and homelessness. Educate your friends and family and sign up for the National Coalition for the Homeless newsletter to stay informed about legislative alerts.
To find a list of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events in DC visit nationalhomeless.org.