Hopeless and Close to Home by Rachel Faulk

Every time I travel downtown, I am sure to encounter at least one disheveled person standing on the side of the road, holding up a cardboard sign asking for help.

“No money. Have a family.”

“No home. Need food.”

Shabbily-dressed figures trod sidewalks, huddle in cardboard shelters under overpasses, and clutch signs on street corners. Many people do not even give them a second glance.

There are well over 1,500 homeless people in the city of Birmingham—men, women, and children, white and black, young and old alike. Although some attribute this problem to a lack of affordable housing in the city, most of these are on the streets because they could not keep a job, whether due to mental illness or addiction, and ended up with no means to provide for themselves.

Thankfully, this problem has not gone wholly ignored. Numerous shelters and ministries have risen up across Birmingham to aid the destitute. Examples include the Foundry, the Jimmie Hale Mission, the Lovelady Center, Brother Bryan Mission, and Urban Purpose. Yet despite so many opportunities for restoration, there are still over a thousand homeless in Birmingham.

Nevertheless, we can all contribute to eliminating the problem of homelessness by donating money or time to these ministries. Some may prefer to help by giving financially to these ministries, most of whom are non-profit and run on donations. For others, there are volunteer opportunities that allow volunteers to come face to face with these people and hear their stories. We can even help simply by talking about the issue and not pretending that the people we see on the side of the road are invisible. If the community is willing to step up and give of our time and resources, then in time the problem of homelessness can be abated.

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