There are people in Lake County who would probably rather not talk, think, read or hear about homelessness.
But the problem with taking this position is that people have bad impressions of homelessness or are indifferent to the plight of those who have no conventional place to call home.
That’s why we were delighted to hear that officials at Extended Housing will be launching an awareness campaign focused on homelessness.
Extended Housing’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness among Lake County people with serious mental illness.
The Painesville-based organization receives funding and support from the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board. Established by Ohio law, the ADAMHS Board is responsible for planning, funding, and evaluating mental health and recovery services in Lake County.
Dubbed “I’m Home”, the campaign ultimately serves to raise awareness and eliminate stigma/misconceptions.
“It’s very easy to miss the seriousness of homelessness in Lake County because we’re not an urban county where you see it on our street corners,” said Stacy Ray, community development coordinator. resources and community engagement at Extended Housing. “Homeless people here live in tents or in their cars. They also do couch surfing from house to house with family and friends.
“Through the campaign, we’re not just trying to say that we have a lot of homelessness, but also that there are myths around homelessness that we want to erase,” he said. added. “It’s also easy for many of us to forget what that phrase ‘I’m home’ means. It goes way beyond a roof over a person’s head – it’s It’s about peace, security and even the joy that comes from being able to say, “I’m home”.
To spearhead the campaign, Extended Housing collected stories from clients and tenants who have experienced homelessness to paint a stark reality for residents.
“I’m Home” also seeks to reveal the different ways in which homelessness and homelessness reduction impact a community.
Beginning the last week of March and running through June, the campaign will span different media platforms, from print to social media to radio.
According to Extended Housing, the myths and facts surrounding homelessness are often, even unconsciously, mixed up, including:
• People experiencing homelessness are lazy.
• People experiencing homelessness are violent and dangerous.
• The root cause of homelessness is the result of “bad choices”.
• The value of stable housing for someone with mental illness and experiencing homelessness is vastly underestimated and more widespread than one might think.
• Every night, 93 people are homeless in Lake County.
Extended Housing is continually seeking opportunities to speak to schools, civic organizations and churches about homelessness in Lake County, Ray noted.
On March 29 at 8 a.m., the nonprofit will host an on-site breakfast to learn more about what Lake County faith leaders are seeing in their places of worship, while sharing available resources. for those looking for help.
“Lake County is fortunate to have several organizations that focus on helping homeless people – Sub Zero Mission, Project Hope for the Homeless, Little Annie’s Hope Train, and the ADAMHS Council,” Ray said.
“We are all trying to work together to end homelessness and raise awareness, each of us having our own goals,” he added. “For example, Extended Housing strives to help all those experiencing homelessness with a focus on those with serious mental illnesses, while Sub Zero Mission focuses on our veterans.
“We want people to come out of this campaign with a better understanding of homelessness, especially with greater clarity of myths versus facts,” Ray said. “We also want to personalize homelessness, because it’s not just here in places like New York or Los Angeles.”
Extended Housing is located at 270 E. Main St., Suite 300 in Painesville.
For more information, call 440-352-8424, ext. 124 or email [email protected]
In conclusion, The News-Herald commends Extended Housing for its plans to lead the next homelessness awareness campaign in Lake County.
Hopefully this initiative will provide more people with accurate information about homelessness. We also hope that the “I’m Home” campaign will encourage some of these same people to support the efforts of area nonprofits to solve and alleviate the very real problem of homelessness in Lake County.