Every year La Puente hosts HOPE Week, a series of community events designed to promote understanding and boost education about homelessness. Throughout the week there will be a series of events and articles shared with the community. For more information please visit
http://lapuenteevents.wordpress.com or our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/lapuentehome.com
“No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” – Dorothy Day
Hopelessness can seem an insurmountable stumbling block when it comes to homelessness in America. However, in reality, that is not necessarily the case– according to a recent Gallup poll, 43% of Americans worry about homelessness “a great deal,” while 33% worry about it “a fair amount.” That same poll found that, on any given night, over 600,000 individuals across the United States do not have homes to sleep in.
These numbers are indicative not of homelessness as a problem, rather as a sign of underlying issues affecting people in a devastating way. La Puente’s programs address these underlying issues through outreach, prevention, and education. Homeless Outreach, Prevention, and Education, or HOPE Week, is an annual week of programming and events aimed at creating a dialogue in the community about homelessness. This year’s events will take place during the week of September 22-28. The idea of hope is not one that is commonly associated with homelessness. Oftentimes, it is viewed as a hopeless situation, but therein lays the danger. When hope is gone, the door is wide open for homelessness to be criminalized and the underlying issues at hand are ignored. For instance, a study conducted by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that homeless populations across the country were reporting that they were being arrested for minor infractions, such as sitting on sidewalks or loitering. This response to homelessness is known as a “broken window” policy, where petty crimes are treated much more harshly than they typically are in the hopes that it will deter people from committing more serious crimes. The problem with this operating system is that it does not usually work in ways lawmakers and police departments would like.
Instead of deterring serious crime, many aspects of homeless life are made illegal, and jails are filling up with people who do not necessarily need to be there. Similarly, New York City continues a policy called “Project Reconnect,” where the city will purchase one way bus and plane tickets for homeless individuals who have family in places outside of New York City. New York is attempting to eliminate the “problem” of homelessness without all of the messy, complicated, often hopeless work which requires taking a critical look at the services it provides for its homeless residents. The unfortunate truth is that lack of education leads to much larger issues such as those mentioned above. This is one of the many reasons HOPE Week is so necessary, and why La Puente hopes that the community will take advantage of the week’s events. On Monday September22 there will be tables set up in Cole and Carroll Parks from 6-8 PM where community members can test their knowledge about homelessness in the SLV.
On Tuesday September23 there will be a screening of “Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home” at Adams State University’s Student Life Center at 6:30 PM. On Wednesday, September 24 there will be a Candlelight Vigil to honor the struggles of those in homeless situations starting at La Puente Home at 7 PM. On Friday September 26 there will be a special Open Mic Night at Milagros where all submissions highlight or educate about homelessness from 6-8 PM. On Saturday, all community members are welcome to meet at the Food Bank at 8:30 AM for Community Gleaning in a local field with all produce going to the Food Bank or shelter. The events conclude on Sunday September 28 with a Community Open House and BBQ at La Puente Home from 12-2 PM which is open to the community and will feature grilled hamburgers and live music. For more information or for ways to get involved with HOPE Week, please contact La Puente’s office of Community Education at 587-3499, stop by the office at 317 State Ave, or e-mail Nicole at email@example.com