June 17, 2014

The Challenge of Summer

While the summer sun begins to warm our neighborhoods and we joyfully shed some of the fleece jackets and extra sweaters we’ve been clinging to all winter, the homeless face a dark reality: The challenge of summer.

You see, in the colder months it seems easy to remember our homeless friends. The biting wind and rain reminds us of how fortunate we are to have homes to seek shelter in. But when the sun comes out, temperatures rise and we spend more time outside, offering safe shelter and hot food to our homeless neighbors doesn’t seem as important. But it is.

Maybe it’s even more important.

Every summer, giving to Everett Gospel Mission drops. Crimes on the streets increase. Even though milder temperatures make it seem safer to sleep unsheltered, it’s downright dangerous to spend the night without a roof and walls for protection. Plus, low-income families whose children receive free or reduced lunches during the school year don’t have access to those programs.

And in the wake of all that, we are also facing a new epidemic in our country:

The reality of the working homeless.

In fact, 44% of homeless people are employed. But low-paying jobs and continually rising inflation are making it harder to make ends meet.

This is the first time since The Great Depression that those who are employed can still face the reality of homelessness. My heart breaks for these hard-working people, people like Becky*, who are doing everything they can but keep coming up short.

With Becky and her husband both working, they could care for their family. But when he left, he took more than half of their income with him. Barely scraping by, Becky was laid off. She began looking for another job right away, but at every turn she was rejected, saying she was over qualified for the positions available.

Becky began giving her share of food to her kids so they would have enough to eat. That left her malnourished with severe vitamin deficiencies and dental problems that wracked her with pain.

Finally she came to the Mission and that first meal she received filled her with hope. She is getting the help she needs to move forward with her kids at her side and I am praying this will be their best summer yet. I hope you’ll join me in prayer for Becky and her four kids, as well as the other working-class homeless in Snohomish County who need food, hope and the fresh start that Jesus can provide.