There are more than half a million people in the USA that don’t have a home. Around sixty-five percent of them sleep in shelters, but the other 200 000 spend their nights sleeping on benches, in parks, in abandoned houses or sidewalks.
Luckily, in Australia, a non-profit organization has found an interesting solution to that problem.
A shelter like no other
Norman McGillivray started investigating the situation with homeless people in Australia and found out that not only the issue was not improving but it was becoming worse every day. So he wanted to find an innovative solution that will have an impact but he didn’t want to copy all the other organizations that were already providing help.
So one day when he went to a local shopping mall, he noticed that the parking lot was almost empty. And that’s when his idea was born. He contacted Secure Parking, one of the biggest parking operators in that area and they agreed to help him. He named his idea Beddown.
A reimagined use for space
Norman didn’t only stop with the carpark. He noticed many other places around all the countries that were used during the daytime but were empty at night. So his goal was to use these spaces and transform them into shelters for people who were sleeping on the streets. But Beddown provided more than just a place to sleep. There were doctors, hairdressers, dentists that provided services for all the guests and there were also places where they could get new clothes and clean themselves.
Which categories of people are at a bigger risk of ending up homeless?
The reasons why anyone might end up homeless are countless but some of these categories of people are more vulnerable.
1. Army veterans
In the USA the number of army veterans that are homeless is more than 10%. The reason behind this might be because there are simply not enough institutions and services that will help veterans go back to normal lives after their duty.
2. Domestic violence victims
Around 15% of all the homeless in America have said that they’ve suffered some form of domestic abuse, which is the biggest reason for homelessness for women.
3. Kids that have left their foster care homes
This category includes all kids who left their foster homes either because they’ve become old enough or they’ve had a negative experience. Research has shown that children who have left their foster homes are more likely to end up homeless.
4. Patients that have recovered from some addiction or former inmates
Many of the people in these categories either haven’t even finished their education or they’re being stigmatized because of their past and they can’t find a job, so that leaves them on the streets and it is more likely for them to return to their old habits.
5. People that suffered traumatic experiences
Some traumatic experiences like a fire, the loss of a loved one, or loss of a career might lead to homelessness. People that suffered from injuries that caused them to have some disability might have a hard time finding a job so they might end up homeless.
Life is very challenging for homeless people
It’s not easy to live on the streets. People that have homes aren’t even aware of the issues homeless people are facing. They have no way to protect themselves from the cold during winter and from the extreme heat during summer. Just surviving is a challenge. Homeless people are also looked down upon as being irresponsible or lazy and can sometimes be shunned due to their appearance.
Another thing homeless people struggle with is sleep, or not getting enough of it. They already have very few possessions so they might not be able to rest at night fearing someone might rob them.
All of these challenges can cause many different health problems such as diabetes, depression, and hypertension which puts these people in an even worse situation.
Beddown helps greatly with this situation
Beddown is founded on three principles: Every person needs to have a bed of their own, everyone needs to work on repairing the quality of life, and to work together on reaching a point where Beddown is no longer needed.
Beddown is already making some huge differences in that field, but Norman has an optimistic mind and he doesn’t want it to exist forever but he wants it to be just a stepping stone toward finding real homes for these people.