NYPIRG facilitates sleep out in support of homeless veterans

Students gather at Cleveland Hall to promote awareness for homeless veterans with a sleep out.

Youleidy Vega/The Record

Students gather at Cleveland Hall to promote awareness for homeless veterans with a sleep out.

The SUNY Buffalo State chapter of NYPIRG hosted its annual sleep out for the homeless Thursday below Cleveland Hall in support of homeless veterans.

Patricia Ceravole, NYPIRG coordinator, said that the event was part of NYPIRG’s hunger and homelessness campaign that they hold every semester in which they bring light to a part of the population that is disproportionally affected by homelessness.

“The event was designed to get the conversation going and for people to really understand what it is like to be in the shoes of somebody that is homeless,” Ceravole said,“and also to partner students with organizations where they can volunteer and work to make a difference on this campaign.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Thus, the ROTC, the Student Political Society, Iota Phi Theta, and the PRIDE Alliance joined NYPIRG for the event in an effort to raise awareness and encourage political support on the issue of homelessness.

“Sleep out so others can sleep in!” was the catchphrase of the event, which ran from 4 p.m.-2 a.m. featuring guest speakers who spoke in solidarity of veterans who have had no choice but to live a homeless life.

Ailen Sheil, Chairperson for NYPIRG’s board of directors, said one of the speakers spoke about all of the services that are available to veterans to help them find a stable job and stable housing, which is really important in being able to move forward and adapt to life when they come back to serving our country.

As the guest speakers arrived and the event unfolded, volunteers mingled around constructing cardboard houses, drinking hot chocolate and playing games.

Some of the volunteers sat in cardboard boxes holding statistical posters.

Wearing her ROTC uniform, Julie Litvin, freshman mathematics and economics student held up a sign that read “Thirty-three percent of all homeless are veterans.”

“The veterans fought for our country and now they are homeless,” Litvin said. “If they are willing to give us their lives then why can’t we give them a home?”

Litvin added that she chose to participate in the event for all of the homeless but also for her future and the future of her kids. She is planning on joining the armed forces, so this could potentially be her story unless she fights to make a change right now.

In addition to bringing awareness to the reasons why someone may become homeless, the event coordinators wanted to take away the stereotypes of being homeless.

“Decriminalize it and make it a human thing,” Sheil said. “It’s not just the ‘bum in the street’ that you see, this is a real person that has had potentially bad things happen to them that have been out of their control. Nobody wants to be homeless. Nobody wants to have that instability in their lives.”

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