It is no secret that homelessness is a prevalent issue in our nation, especially within large metro areas such as Washington D.C. At any given time, thousands of homeless citizens line the streets, with large encampments forming around bridges and green spaces. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, nearly 6,000 Virginia residents are homeless. Similarly, over 6,000 residents in the District of Columbia are homeless. These staggering statistics indicate that homelessness in Loudoun County where this magazine is published is an issue that needs our community’s attention. Many would argue that this is an issue only the government can solve, however, youth involvement in activism and politics is expanding. This desire among young people for change is strongly felt in Northern Virginia, where a group of Loudoun County teens is aiming to take matters into their own hands and put an end to homelessness.
The Simple Truth is a local nonprofit organization that was co-founded by high school students Keerthi Uppalapati and Angela Gu. The organization seeks to not only combat homelessness in the DMV area but also educate local youth on the effects of homelessness and possible solutions to the issue. This education is desperately needed, as homelessness rates are quickly rising. According to a March 2021 report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in the U.S. has risen 2.2 percent since 2019.
According to that same March 2021 report, 580,466 people a night in the U.S dealt with homelessness in January of 2020, and with factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers are increasing rapidly.
“We are currently working on writing a legislative policy to propose to the Biden Administration’s Chief of Staff of the Healthcare sector,” said Uppalapati. “We want to cooperate on a policy that will establish a systematic solution to homelessness,” she added.
Uppalapati has also worked on a more local level, meeting with U.S. Congresswoman and local Loudoun County representative Jennifer Wexton. Together, Uppalapati and Wexton worked to propose possible youth solutions to homelessness.
In addition to proposing legislative action, The Simple Truth is also working to publish a story book entitled The Simple Truth From the American Youth. Uppalapati refers to this book as a “youth’s guide to homelessness.” The book aims to educate and introduce homelessness to young children who are unaware of homelessness; Uppalapati plans to publish locally in Loudoun County and nationally in the U.S.
Organizations such as the Simple Truth serve as proof that America’s youth can make a difference not only in their local communities but on a national scale as well. “We hope to continue spreading our mission and make a strong impact on youth,” said Uppalapati.
Article by Olivia Zavadil