During June, we will be sharing facts about what housing insecurity looks like and how perilous this situation is for those who find themselves in it. When most people think of those experiencing homelessness, they often picture individuals sleeping on the streets, in tents, or in shelters like ours. However, we know that homelessness takes many forms and can affect people from all walks of life. Today, we want to shed light on the various ways homelessness can manifest and raise awareness about the broader issue of housing insecurity and hidden homelessness in our community.

While those living out on the streets are the most visible form of homelessness, it is not the only one. Many individuals and families experiencing homelessness are not always easily identifiable, as they may be living in situations that are less apparent to the public eye. These hidden forms of homelessness are just as critical and deserve our attention and support. More often than not, our guests come to us having experienced one of these hidden forms of homelessness first. This is a direct result of housing insecurity.

One common form of hidden homelessness is couch surfing or doubling up with friends or family members. When individuals or families cannot afford to rent or own their own homes, they may resort to staying with others temporarily. While this may provide a roof over their heads, it is not a stable or permanent solution. These arrangements can be overcrowded, stressful, and can strain relationships over time. We find that while friends and family start with good intentions, these situations often end with guests coming to us and a strained relationship. It is essential to set clear expectations for both parties before entering into this situation.

Another form of homelessness that often goes unnoticed is living out of one’s vehicle. When people lose their homes or cannot afford rent, they may turn to their cars, vans, or RVs as a last resort. While this may provide some shelter, it comes with its own set of challenges, such as lack of proper sanitation, difficulty accessing food and water, and the constant risk of being ticketed or towed.

Another form of hidden homelessness is when an individual or family uses motels or hotels as a housing solution. While this may seem like a step up from street homelessness, it is not a sustainable or affordable long-term option. Motel living can quickly deplete financial resources, making it even harder to secure stable housing in the future.

Other forms of hidden homelessness can include staying in abandoned buildings or sleeping in public spaces like libraries, police stations, or 24-hour establishments. There are many ways that individuals can have housing insecurity, which leads directly to experiencing homelessness.

At Nest Community Shelter, we recognize that homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. We work tirelessly to provide not only temporary shelter but also resources and support to help individuals and families transition into stable, permanent housing. However, we cannot do this work alone. Addressing the root causes of homelessness and providing lasting solutions requires a community effort. Over the next month, we hope to raise awareness about the various forms of homelessness and the broader issue of housing insecurity to inspire more people to get involved and make a difference.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, please know that help is available. Reach out to local township trustees, houses of worship, housing authorities, or community organizations for support and resources. Together, we can work towards a future where everyone has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing.

Remember, homelessness has many faces, and it is up to all of us to extend compassion and support to all those affected by this crisis. By working together and raising awareness, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and build a stronger, more inclusive community for all.