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House Fire Deaths Sign of Poverty/Homelessness

This petition had 360 supporters

Especially during brutally cold months, households struggling to survive often take in homeless family or friends, those "having hard times," to keep people from freezing on the streets.

A family having "hard times" (translation: homeless due to hardship) in Starkville, Mississippi was recently taken into the small apartment of India Williams, a 25-year-old mother of three who understood what "hard times" do to a family. Williams paid dearly for her kindness. On Monday, Dec. 28, in Starkville, a fire in that overcrowded apartment killed three women and six small children.

They are just some of the victims of a nationwide house fire epidemic. The Red Cross reports a 200% increase in house fires, a combination of freezing temperatures and dire economic times.

Tragically, overcrowding, inability to pay for heat/electricity, and other factors increase the risk of house fires. Almost every day, more desperately cold households are turning to unsafe methods to stay warm following utility shut-offs. Houses burn and people die or are displaced after losing everything.

We need government officials and the public to recognize these tragedies for what they are: symbols of poverty, homelessness, and the need for a safety net to ease desperate attempts to escape the cold.

We call on the mayor of Starkville to:

> Increase local emergency resources for families, teens and individuals who have lost housing.

> Expand resources to ensure households have safe methods to stay warm.

> Develop public safety campaigns about home heating and distribute information to places frequented by low-income families.

> Recognize that "having hard times" often equals "homelessness" and increase efforts to develop housing options for people without a safe, affordable place to live.

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