Shelter in the Storm: Facing Homelessness in Asheville
Many communities around the nation face challenges of homelessness. As a culture, we often dehumanize these stories in the way we discuss persons experiencing homelessness and the causes and solutions. But none of our national dialogue changes the fact that many people right here in Asheville will be without a home during the holiday season. So, what can we do in our community right now to help our community members find shelter in the storm.
Challenges the Chronic Homeless Face in the Winter
Even though the winters in Western North Carolina are shorter than in other areas of the country, there are still some challenges for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in our area. A lack of shelter is really only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Other concerns include:
- Lack of dry or warm clothing options: warm socks are a specific challenge for many of the nation’s homeless population.
- Inability to find dry bedding: The winter can be cold but it can also be wet. Sleeping bags and blankets can only do so much to keep off the chill, and nothing if they’re also wet.
- Availability of warm food: Soup kitchens do a lot of good, especially around the holidays, but they’re not an everyday resource in many cases. Warm foods like soup, or even just a cup of coffee, can provide comfort to someone experiencing homelessness.
There are also challenges most people don’t think about. For instance, women experiencing chronic homelessness don’t have easy access to menstrual products and often live uncomfortably throughout the year.
Homeward Bound WNC is a non-profit resource in the area working toward ending homelessness in the region. The organization practices a Housing First initiative, which reinforces the belief that shelter is a human right. They want to create a culture in the Asheville area that values everyone.
There are a number of ways the local community can participate, including donations and volunteering. The team at Prime Mortgage Lending, Inc. is proud to be a part of the REACH Fund, a resource funded by professionals in the Real Estate industry in the area with the commission to end chronic homelessness in Buncombe county.
Through Homeward Bound WNC and REACH Fund, we encourage members of the community to volunteer and donate money as well as clean and gently used household items.
Additional Local Resources for Persons Experiencing Homelessness
The Asheville area has a number of resources including shelters and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the area’s chronic homeless.
The Western Carolina Rescue Mission and ABCCM both have a variety of programs to help solve the areas chronic homelessness crisis. Along with Homeward Bound of WNC’s resources, including AHOPE, PATH, and Room at the Inn, there are places for individuals in need to go and community members to help.
Focusing on Giving This Holiday Season
As we approach the holidays, we understand that many people focus on the trappings of the season. And while celebrating with friends and family is certainly important, we challenge our neighbors to add one more tradition to their holidays.
There are a variety of places you can donate food and clothing items in the area. Common organizations that often hold food or clothing drives in the winter include:
- Homeward Bound WNC
- Local churches, temples, and other places of worship
- Apartment management companies
- Food pantries
If you don’t find the drive you’re looking for, you can always organize your own. Work with your neighborhood, spiritual community, school, or other organization to request clothing and food items. Some places offering resources for persons experiencing homelessness will also accept gently used camping supplies, such as small tents, warm weather sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and backpacks.
However, you choose to give back, keep those experiencing chronic or temporary homelessness this year in your annual holiday acknowledgements.
At Prime Mortgage Lending, Inc., we want to focus on giving back this holiday season. Whether you volunteer at the local level or donate money or items to the organizations that directly help people experiencing homelessness in our community, we encourage everyone to consider the ways they can give back this season.