What does the word “homelessness” mean? In the most basic terms, homelessness is to be without a place to live, to rest, to be.
During the Christmas season, we are reminded that the story of Jesus begins with a small family who had no place to stay for the night. Jesus, Mary and Joseph ended up lodging with the cattle in a stable. Scripture records that “the Son of God had no place to lay his head.”
As we approach Christmas in 2020, many in the country and in our own town also have no place to live. Homelessness includes the transient individual who may be seen panhandling along our streets and highways or the individual who “couch surfs” from friend to friend because they have no permanent home. Often “housing insecurity” includes the family who faces eviction or foreclosure in tough economic times.
The City of Marietta has an opportunity to begin to change the way in which our community responds to those who truly “have no place to lay their heads.” The Times recently reported that the city’s Finance Committee has received $400,000 from the Federal CARES Act. The Finance Committee has to make a decision on how to spend the money by December 31, 2020.
The Finance Committee should take a hard look at the $400,000 and do what the legislation was designed to do, help those who have been affected by the largest Public Health emergency in 100 years. Spending even a portion of the money to begin to address, in a unified way, the needs of homeless individuals and the “housing insecurity” of families is the right thing to do.
As the weather grows colder, now is the time to plan for the inevitable down turn in the temperature and to work, in partnership with existing public and private funding to ensure that everyone has a safe, warm place to lay their head this winter.
Teresa R. Porter