This winter, Americans across the country have faced extreme weather as streets became covered in ice and mounds of snow and temperatures and wind chills dropped to record lows. Many of us have complained about this seemingly endless winter, but we’ve also had the privilege of being able to stay warm in our homes and offices. We at The PBEye have tried to remember to be sensitive to the needs of others.
According to government data, more than 600,000 Americans are homeless on any given night and approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia each year. While many cities guarantee housing for any homeless person on “hypothermia nights,” shelters have been overflowing and officials have had to scramble to find basic accommodations for individuals and families in need.
The extreme weather is a wakeup call. In collaboration with homeless advocates, pro bono attorneys can lead the charge to find solutions to the complex problem of pervasive homelessness. Whether our efforts are directed toward helping homeless youth; counseling nonprofits that work to end homelessness; staffing legal clinics at shelters; advocating for affordable housing in our communities; or engaging in holistic, community-wide efforts, we can’t remain on the sidelines. Let’s channel our annoyance with the weather into positive and meaningful change.
Want to learn more? Join us in Washington for the 2014 PBI Annual Conference. During the Pro Bono Expo Lunch on Thursday, March 6, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) will be leading a provocative discussion about a disturbing trend: the criminalization of homelessness. For more information, please call 202.973.8720.