November is Homelessness & Food Insecurity Awareness Month

  • Be Aware
  • Be Healthy
  • Be Proactive
  • Be Helpful

Pledge with us to be aware of our neighbors who may not have enough. Let’s give where we can and stay positive and helpful in every interaction.

November is Homelessness & Food Insecurity Awareness Month

Food Insecurity is a Rising Problem for NM Families, and Veterans & Victims of Domestic Violence are at a Higher Risk of Homelessness

Wellness includes all of our physical and mental health needs, and the most basic ones are having a safe place to live and food to eat. While November is usually a month to celebrate gratitude and thankfulness, it’s important to remember that many of our neighbors do not have enough food or somewhere to live. November is National Homelessness and Food Insecurity Awareness Month. Let’s take action to protect everyone’s right to safe, comfortable shelter and healthy food.

Before COVID, New Mexico had a 27% rise in homelessness – the highest in the nation. COVID made problems worse for New Mexicans. Many lost their jobs or had to give them up to stay home and care for their kids. Others could no longer pay for their rent or homes because the cost of living went up as much as 22% in the last year.

New Mexico families still struggle with rising food, gas and housing costs. For years, New Mexico has had one of the highest rates of food insecurity for children in the country with 28 percent of New Mexico’s children lacking enough food. Every week, nearly 70,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance—about the same size as the City of Santa Fe. 

 

Many programs exist to help with food insecurity and homelessness, including New Mexico’s Human Services Department, with both food and income assistance programs. Hunger can take a big toll on children’s mental health, including their ability to learn, and create risks for developmental delay, illnesses and behavioral problems.  To combat child hunger in our state, HSD, BHSD, food banks and other non-profits across New Mexico are working closely together to ensure vulnerable people can get help with accessing food. 

 

Homelessness can happen to anyone. People working low-wage jobs, people living with mental illness, those with substance misuse problems, migrant workers, runaway or trafficked teens, victims of domestic violence and veterans are all at a much higher risk of experiencing homelessness. Domestic Violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children who are forced to flee their homes or face eviction. The New Mexico Human Services Department, Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) works to connect domestic violence survivors to help, including helping to find safe housing. BHSD works with local domestic violence shelters that provide emergency housing, and crisis centers that can help survivors if they want to pursue legal action. 

 

Veterans are also at risk for homelessness.  More than 7.5% of all unsheltered people in New Mexico are Veterans. BHSD offers many resources and support services for Veterans and their families. Their website details how their department is responding to the needs of Veterans and includes information and resources on how to get support with accessing benefits available to Veterans.

 

Mental health issues, childhood trauma and substance misuse can also contribute to homlessness, all of which can involve stigma and lead to isolation. Ending the stigma starts with confronting our own internally held beliefs and changing our behavior to be kinder and more inclusive. 

 

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to give back, and even the smallest act of kindness can make a significant difference. You can go through your closet to put together a bundle of clean and gently used warm clothing, blankets, or shoes to donate to a local shelter. You can give non-perishable and non-expired food items to a local food bank. Consider volunteering with local supportive agencies.  By treating unhoused people with respect and dignity, we can make a difference and work towards building a better community.

Resources

Homelessness/Supportive Housing


Crisis Housing/Shelters

 

Food Insecurity/Assistance

 


Veterans

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Remember to embrace conversations about mental health with others, and to spread the word that mental health is just as important as physical health—it’s all connected.