Friday, July 20, 2012

The New Face of Homelessness

I work at a homeless shelter working amongst women--but every time I go there are always, especially as it is summer, swarms of children playing out front or in the lobby area. It breaks my heart.

Here is a link to an article I just read at Salon:

about kids and homelessness.

Here is also a link to a video where Demarra from the shelter where I volunteer tells her story of being a homeless student:

Here are some excerpts from the Salon article:
"After hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005, advocates for the homeless were horrified to find that the storms had left one in 50 American kids without a home, a record high, according to a report by the Coalition for Family Homelessness. But only a few years later the financial crisis outperformed nature in casting catastrophe on poor Americans. After record foreclosures, layoffs and budget cuts that hit poor families the hardest, America is a country where one out of 45 kids doesn’t have a home. That totals 1.6 million children in 2010 without a permanent place to live, an increase of 448,000 in just three years. Forty percent of the kids are under 6.
“As a society, we bear responsibility for creating this second disaster and for responding to its aftermath,” concludes the report, before detailing how many states fall short in working to prevent family homelessness and in taking care of families who’ve lost their homes.
“Many places in the country don’t have shelters,” says Diane Nilan, an advocate for the homeless who ran several family shelters in Illinois and since 2005 has traveled around the country raising awareness about homeless families (Hear Us). ”In some cases, you have to travel five or six counties over to get to a shelter."

"An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multigenerational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.
In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets."

Cornerstone Community Outreach began in 1988 in the lobby of our building on Malden Street, spread to the first floor dining room and then resulted in the church buying a building where the shelter is today. Actually the church has a complex of buildings and staffs over 6 programs serving over 500 people daily!

I did my writing program with the residents yesterday and was struck by how many of my group are MY AGE. At this juncture in my life, I am so so so thankful I am not homeless, but many of my group were homeless because of foreclosure, unexpected life changes, and breakdown in the family. MANY of them have NEVER been homeless before. First time in a shelter. I asked how they were doing and one woman began to cry. She never once thought she would be here. One woman responded that she would rather be in a shelter than living with her mentally ill daughter--it was tough, all the verbal abuse.

Did you know that $1.17 per day will provide 3 nutritious meals for one person living at CCO? Cornerstone shelters homeless families with children and individuals. While staying at CCO each resident is offered case management services, a bed, meals, a variety of classes, and much more, in a respectful and understanding setting.
If you would like to donate towards the basic daily needs of homeless families or individuals, go to CCO LIFE


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