After several recent interactions with people experiencing homelessness in Phoenix, where temperatures are frequently well over 100 degrees, I have come to realize that homelessness is a vile affront to all of these principles — and as a result, with the help of my Humanist community, the Flagstaff Freethinkers, and several other collaborating organizations, I am spearheading a unique and provocative project to work toward ending homelessness in Arizona.
As of yesterday, I am living without shelter in Phoenix until we raise $56,310 — representing $2 for every individual who experienced homelessness in Arizona last year. The money will go to support the Madison Street Veterans Association, which is in danger of losing its women’s section due to lack of funding. Madison Street is a secular 501(c)(3) peer-run group of homeless and formerly homeless veterans offering personal, individualized service, basic resources, community and advocacy for all veterans.
Many of the individuals I’ve met who are living without shelter have complex, painful, beautiful stories about their lives and about who they are. They have creative and innovative ideas. They have extraordinary value — and yet they are imprisoned in a way of life that causes extreme suffering both physically and mentally. We, as Humanists, need to be on the forefront of fighting to ensure that people do not end up without stable homes — especially in places like Phoenix, where those experiencing homelessness often end up with heat stroke, chronically sunburned and blistered skin, memory and cognitive impairment as a result of lack of sleep, and worse. We ought to find ways to keep families together when they endure financial hardship so that we do not destroy powerful systems of support and send men, women, and children into a spiral of poverty and isolation. And we must create an environment where human well-being is an essential piece of the considerations that weigh into sound economic policy.
You can follow the project at Blistering at the Margins where we’ll keep you updated on our fundraising efforts and where I’ll blog from the public library about living without shelter in Phoenix. If we work together, if we share the project on our social media, if we insist that homelessness in unacceptable to the Humanist community, we can create remarkable, lasting change for people blistering on the margins of society.
Please consider a donation to this Humanist cause. Together we can raise public awareness of and inform public discourse around homelessness; we can invest in an organization working effectively to prevent homelessness — and we can show the broader community that Humanists have a powerful set of ethical values that we boldly direct toward improving our world.