Fighting homelessness means not battling alone

By Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 2:25 p.m. MDT

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Former radio DJ and homeless crack addict Ted Williams found instant fame when his "golden voice" was discovered by a reporter who put a video on YouTube that went viral. In the year since he was discovered, Williams has recorded several commercials, relapsed on alcohol and drugs, gone into rehab and never stopped praying. Support has been an invaluable asset on his recovery. In a recent interview with NBC, Williams traced his fall into homelessness through a series of bad choices and hardships, drugs being a major component of his downward spiral.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, homelessness isn't an adult-only problem. In fact, one out of every 45 kids in the U.S. is homeless, most of them under 7 years old, perpetuating the cycle of poverty, lack of education and psychological issues.

Homelessness is struggle that keeps many people living on the streets in poverty for years and years. When journalist Kevin Fagan decided to spend several months living in San Francisco's homeless community, he found there was inadequate support, available housing and programs to help people get off the streets and get off drugs in the long term.

While churches and other faith-based advocacy groups, like Operation Blessing, try to combat the problem of homelessness in the U.S., there are growing challenges locally ranging from city ordinances to a struggling economy to mental illness to unemployment to a lack of people and resources to help. In the state of Utah, homeless has grown 13 percent in the last year.

But Utah homeless advocate Paula Atkinson says that while programs are good, "Education is [the] path out of poverty. It was for me. Education opens so many more possibilities."

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