As I sit here in our warm house during Prescott’s ‘Snowmagedon of 2019’, I can’t help to think what it would be like if I didn’t have a warm bed, abundance of heat, food to last for weeks, coats, and a sturdy car to navigate through the storm. Worse yet, what if I didn’t have a home?
The facts about homeless families are startling. Roughly 34% of the total population is homeless, and 1 in 30 children in Yavapai County are without a home.
These facts are why Agape House of Prescott is dedicated to help as many families in crisis as possible. I couldn’t imagine being cold or hungry, let alone be homeless. In fact, I went out of my way yesterday to go to the store to make sure we had basic necessities for a few days to last out the storm. There are so many things we take for granted on a daily basis.
Many Americans Are Just One Missed Paycheck Away from Poverty
Millions of middle-class Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty. Roughly 4 of 10 are considered “liquid-asset poor.” This simply means they don’t have enough money socked away to cope with even a sudden disruption in income. What happens when multiple disruptions occur at a time and the money is gone? Where can people in crisis turn for help?
The reality of the financial situation of many households was seen during the recent partial government shutdown. In a report by CBS News, thousands of furloughed government workers, who missed two paychecks, struggled to cover basics like housing and food. One furloughed worker told CBS News in a report that she had $1.06 in her bank account, describing the situation as “terrifying.” Despite the lowest unemployment rate in decades and solid economic growth, many Americans are on thin financial ice.
A recent report from an economic advocacy group, Prosperity Now, highlight the financial insecurity facing many U.S. households. According to the study, households are particularly lagging on key measures such as income and wealth. Across the board, more than 1 in 10 American households fell behind in their bills in the last year, a signal that many are struggling with rising costs and stagnant incomes.
The thought of not having a paycheck for a few weeks takes my breath away. The need to prepare, save, and plan is vital to making a stable future. That is why the volunteers at Agape House work diligently to help our families learn the value of saving. Through hours and hours of mentoring and counseling, life skills classes, and support, the families are taught how to climb out of homelessness and manage money. This is vital to endure financial disruptions, as well as times of low or no income.
What would you do if you didn’t have a paycheck?
Life After Agape House
Agape House is blessed to have around 40 individual volunteers. Each volunteer brings a different gift and talent to the organization. One of our one-on-one volunteers is Diane. She sent me this quote from one of Agape House’s recent families. This is from a single Mom that Agape House mentored and helped say ‘No’ to being homeless and ‘Yes’ to a life-time of self-dependence.
“It is such a relief that my children each have a bed to sleep in. The beds, warm meals, classes and in-home supports are such a gift. I can’t begin to explain the positive changes in my 4 children. They are getting along better, succeeding in school and benefiting from the structure I am now able to provide in our home. My son in Jr High received 2 awards this week for #1 academic achiever and a Behavioral award for standing up for his teacher. I am so extremely grateful for Agape House!”