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Basic Needs Met: Food, Safety, & Housing

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Families and individuals must have a safe home with healthy food for everyone who lives there in order to work toward a higher degree of prosperity.

Food on the table. A safe and secure place to call “home.” These are basic needs for everyone, yet many of our friends and neighbors lack adequate resources to provide essentials for themselves or their families. Many more residents live at risk, living month-to-month in situations where a sudden job loss or health crisis could be devastating.

The challenges of living below poverty thresholds, combined with housing costs and other factors, create living situations that can become unmanageable for many households. People who live in low-income households often must choose between essential needs like housing, food and health care.

Research shows that poverty can have long lasting effects on children’s health and development. Children living in families with income below the poverty thresholds are less likely to have adequate and healthy food, regular medical and dental care, or attend a quality preschool. This puts them at greater risk of not being ready for kindergarten, not reading at grade-level or not graduating high school on time.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to conduct periodic counts of people experiencing homelessness. This data is compiled both locally and nationally to inform planning, programs and funding. Homeward, the planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the Greater Richmond region, coordinates a point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness each January.

Safety is a basic, essential need for us all. We need secure homes in safe communities to focus on other important aspects of our lives, like school, work and family. Unfortunately, many of our communities are regularly affected by violent crime. The violent crime rate is a critical indicator of our progress toward ensuring homes and communities are safe, healthy environments in which families and individuals can prosper.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect and family dysfunction have been proven to inhibit healthy brain development in children and to have long-term and long-lasting ramifications for individuals and families—ramifications that impact the entire community.

While many of us are fortunate enough not to worry about our next meal, too many of our friends and neighbors are not as lucky. Across the region, many residents are struggling to afford next week’s groceries and find themselves wondering how they are going to feed themselves and their families. This uncertainty creates stress and anxiety that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to focus on other things, like maintaining a job or preparing for school.