A Night Without a Home educates about poverty

By Lauren Mangurten

By Lauren Mangurten

Contributing writer

This evening, wooden pallets and cardboard boxes will comprise makeshift shanties for The University Habitat for Humanity’s annual one-night event held on the Quad.

A Night Without a Home has been held for over ten years and aims to educate students about homelessness in America. Meijer and La-Z-Boy will provide the materials for the shanties that will house students for the event that will take place in front of Noyes Laboratory from 5 p.m. today until 8 a.m. Friday morning.

Sara Gibbs, junior in LAS and co-chair of the Habitat for Humanity Special Events Committee and the Education Advocacy Committee, said 3.5 million people are homeless in the United States, and 39 percent are children.

“We hope to raise awareness about poverty and substandard housing and to break down stereotypes about the homeless poor,” said Stuart Montgomery, junior in Engineering and co-chair of the Publicity Committee for the group.

Montgomery said many people in the United States don’t realize how widespread homelessness is nationally, and that children make up a high percentage of the homeless. He said that what participants learn at A Night Without a Home, will surprise them.

“A lot of people have preconceived notions of poverty in America,” he said. “I think it should be very revealing.”

Gibbs said many people don’t realize why homelessness is so prevalent in the United States.

“I believe that a lot of people are really unaware of the complexities of the issues that surround the homeless, and that often society’s stereotypes of the homeless get in the way of our realizing this,” she said.

Gibbs said these issues include a lack of proper care for mental illnesses, addictions and domestic violence, in addition to unaffordable housing.

“Without understanding that a lot of people are homeless due to complex issues . People will not understand that the solution to eradicate homelessness must also involve addressing these issues, and not just putting a roof over someone’s head,” she said.

Montgomery said A Night Without a Home will be fun and relaxing, yet informative. According to Gibbs, the evening will include making shanties, listening to guest speakers, participating in a discussion and activity, viewing a movie and sleeping on the Quad.

“Sleeping on the Quad does make a statement that we are aware of these issues and are committed to working towards solutions for them. However, I also believe that devoting the whole night to the event really gives participants the time to step away from their everyday life and think about and discuss what they learned throughout the evening,” Gibbs said.

Earlier this week, Bansi Thekdi, junior in AHS, chalked the Quad and hung flyers to advertise for the event.

“(A Night Without a Home allows you) to put yourself in the position of someone who has to live without basic necessities,” said Thekdi. “You can’t fully understand how it is, but you can get an inkling, an idea.”