By WaTasha Barnes Griffin—
MUNCIE, IN—What do you think of when you hear the word homeless? Is it a shifty drifter on the street with a cardboard sign asking for a handout?
Is it someone, in an oversized wool coat, slumped on a park bench sleeping in plain sight?
Is it an old lady pushing a grocery cart loaded with her only possessions down a country road?
In fact, in our community, there are two cohorts who are the most vulnerable – families and youth.
The Delaware County Housing Consortium, made up of local agencies focused on the unhoused – including YWCA Central Indiana, Muncie Mission, Christian Ministries, A Better Way, Meridian Health Services and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital – completed a three-year plan recently designed to end homelessness for families and youth. To end it. It is a bodacious goal but to not do this means catastrophic outcomes.
Our report says: “There will be an emphasis on “Get to Zero” for both family homelessness and youth homelessness.” This work truly will take a village.
The need is dire.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a record number of people experiencing homelessness and the 2021 Point-In-Time Count was the highest in 10 years. The number of people between 18-24 experiencing homelessness nearly doubled throughout the pandemic. More children under the age of 18 are homeless now than before the pandemic.
The number of individuals experiencing homelessness is still the highest it has been since 2017.
Black residents continue to be disproportionately affected by homelessness. Black, female-led families are showing up in shelters more often. The greatest at-risk youth are disproportionately trans and LGBTQ populations.
The stereotypical view of what homelessness is, or better still, who it is, slows progress. The image of the lazy grifter comes to mind.
In fact, the lack of affordable, quality housing is the No. 1 cause of homelessness. Poverty, unemployment are other reasons. A chronic illness and domestic violence often lead to homelessness.
In Muncie, there is a severe lack of affordable, quality housing. Solving this issue means working across agencies, with shared, accountability. It means working with mission-driven landlords to give second chances.
At YWCA Central Indiana we believe in second chances.
We’ve been serving women and their children in Muncie since 1911.
Our programs address the fact that far too many women experience violence and lack economic security, and these issues disproportionately impact women of color.
We work proactively to transform individual lives through direct service and education and to change institutions through training and advocacy.
YWCA Central Indiana is the only crisis emergency shelter program in Central Indiana, that provides safe housing for women and their children. It is the only shelter in central Indiana that will house a woman with male children up to age 17.
As of November 2022, YWCA Central Indiana has served more than 429 women and children from an eight-county area including Delaware, Henry, Randolph, Blackford, Jay, Grant, and Madison counties. We also see a high number of women seeking shelter referred from Marion County.
We provide safe places for women and girls, build strong women leaders and advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in Congress.
We cannot do this alone. We need you; we need our community…and women and children need us.
To donate and to learn more about our work visit ywcacentralindiana.org.
WaTasha Barnes Griffin has been CEO of YWCA Central Indiana in Muncie since 2015.