What is Water Insecurity and How is The People Concern Helping?

Readily accessible, clean drinking water is the most basic human necessity, but something many of us may take for granted.   

For our neighbors experiencing homelessness without stable shelter, safe drinking water is not a guarantee, and dehydration is a very real possibility. Ongoing, insufficient access to drinking water is referred to as “water insecurity,” and according to Scientific American, it affects “almost every corner of the U.S.,” including what may be categorized as more affluent cities like Los Angeles. We are proud to announce our latest Bottle for Bottle partnership with The People Concern as they empower the most vulnerable among us to rebuild their lives and stay hydrated. 

A 2017 audit of Downtown Los Angeles’s Skid Row area by Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, Skid Row Community Residents and Partners found “no visible access to drinking water” in the neighborhood, a predicament that community members living in encampments across Los Angeles County must grapple with daily.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions” and affects the body’s base level of functioning. While the condition is fairly common, chronic dehydration can lead to potentially fatal complications including kidney failure, hypovolemic (low blood volume) shock, and seizures. As summer approaches and temperatures climb dangerously towards the triple digits, the risks of water insecurity will become increasingly acute.

The People Concern, one of Los Angeles County’s largest social services agencies founded in 1963, is ending homelessness by connecting our neighbors experiencing homelessness with stable housing. The journey home often begins with The People Concern’s outreach teams. These connections lay the foundation for a therapeutic relationship that will ultimately connect them with the resources they need to secure a home of their own. Annually, The People Concern empowers over 1,500 individuals to come inside for good.

To establish trust, outreach workers often come bearing items that people living without shelter need. During the sweltering summer months, these often include things like sunscreen, hats, and most importantly, water. Kate Wisda, RN, BSN, MSN and Nurse Care Coordinator with The People Concern, often faces the realities of chronic dehydration in her outreach work. She says the physical toll of water insecurity is “further compounded with the stress of experiencing homelessness,” which is a health hazard unto itself, and the comorbidities that come with general poor health as a result of inadequate access to medical care and shelter.  The reusable water bottles donated to The People Concern will support two vital functions: serving as a token of trust between The People Concern’s outreach workers and people experiencing homelessness, in addition to equipping those living on the streets with a durable receptacle for clean drinking water. 

Water can play a crucial role in the journey home for our neighbors living outside by not only immediately providing relief from dehydration, but also by serving as the first step in building a relationship between outreach workers and individuals experiencing homelessness. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with The People Concern as part of our shared mission to end homelessness and bring water security to our most vulnerable neighbors.

 

Written by: Louisa Johnston

 

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