How Identity and Belonging are Linked to Ending Homelessness and Why it Matters
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Poverty and homelessness are complex issues that are often misunderstood. Before addressing homelessness it’s important to understand why we should even care. It’s also crucial to recognize how seemingly distant issues like identity and belonging can actually be linked to ending homelessness completely.
Let’s start with why we should care about ending homelessness. For starters, homelessness is an issue that affects everyone— even if you aren’t homeless yourself, you probably know someone who is or has been at some point in their life.
All Forms of Homelessness Matter
It’s important to note that there is more than one type of homelessness, allowing everyone to truly see how far-reaching an issue homelessness is. Each form has its own specific issues, causes, and needs. When you consider that individuals experiencing homelessness may have mental health or substance abuse problems, you can see how relating with others can be a major help when working through these tough situations.
Many programs designed to end homelessness focus on creating opportunities for individuals to develop relationships with other members of their community. This helps them feel like they belong somewhere and gives them someone who understands what they’re going through—and who will listen when things get hard.
Identity and Belonging Build Meaningful Lives
There is little as important as living a meaningful life during our brief time on earth. For those experiencing homelessness, finding meaning in life may be particularly challenging. However, research shows that identity and belonging help us create purposeful lives where we feel connected to others around us. (Additional reading: Why Belonging is Also Important in the Workplace)
In short, building relationships with others provides a sense of purpose for individuals experiencing homelessness—and when meaning is created within a community like The Bautista Project, lives can be changed for good. It’s why we believe identity and belonging matter in every facet of our lives. And it’s why ending homelessness matters too.
Connecting with Others Eliminates Isolation
One of the Bautista Project's goals is to help individuals experiencing homelessness feel connected, included, and supported. By helping individuals connect with others who care about homelessness, The Bautista Project has created a welcoming community for homeless individuals in need.
This sense of belonging helps combat issues like isolation which can often lead homeless individuals back onto city streets if they don’t have anyone who cares about them or someone else looking out for them. In addition, community outreach creates safe spaces for unhoused people where they can receive help or talk about their experiences without fear of judgment.
Sense of Community Builds Long Term Resilience
Communities, where people have a sense of belonging and feel that they matter are communities with long-term resilience. Knowing you matter means you can better hold yourself accountable for your choices in your life.
At The Bautista Project, we know how powerful a sense of community can be in helping end homelessness by creating opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness to belong.
We create transformative opportunities that support and sustain individuals’ pathways toward stability, self-sufficiency, & ultimately housing, fostering connections and success.
Getting Connected Leads to Employment
The connection between identity and homelessness should not be taken lightly.
Without a sense of community or belonging, people who experience homelessness lose hope for a better future. We believe that giving our friends a sense of community is critical when ending homelessness. Connecting them with their local community leads them to employment.
Meaningful Work Leads to Self-Sufficiency
Employment is often a powerful part of building a sense of belonging. Earning an income allows people experiencing homelessness to meet their basic needs and feel more in control of their lives. In addition, finding meaningful work can give individuals feeling lost on their journey toward self-sufficiency and a newfound sense of purpose.
Additionally, when we treat those experiencing homelessness with dignity and respect, they begin to see themselves as valuable members of our community. They know that someone cares about them. And when you care about someone, you want them to succeed. These three factors—self-determination, dignity, and respect—make up The Bautista Project’s philosophy: To create a sense of belonging.
It guides us in how we approach everyone who we come in contact with at The Bautista Project. It reminds us that every person has value because they are created by God – not because of their employment status or housing situation or any other factor out of their control. When we remember that each person matters because God made them unique, all things are possible!
The Bautista Project believes that creating a sense of belonging helps individuals experiencing homelessness feel seen, heard, and supported. Furthermore, it is linked to ending homelessness. (Listen to Marla’s Ted Talk on How Belonging Will End Homelessness)
Making a difference in the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness begins with acknowledging how they identify with the community by being members of organizations they support. Also, these organizations allow them to make friends with peers who have similar experiences living outside, finally becoming less isolated as a group of people facing challenges that others might never understand unless they’ve lived through them themselves.
You too can become a part of our community. We need your help to spread this message of belonging. By becoming a monthly donor of $10, $20, or $50 a month you can send a strong message of support (and much-needed resources) to our friends who are overcoming homelessness.