We All Need a Safe Place to Call Home | by Sharon A. Knight
The Village Voice Blog – February 5, 2016
I recently had an unexpected visit from a woman from the community in dire need. She was desperate for a place to live and a way to support herself as she and her six year old son were going to be evicted from their temporary shelter. She looked very professional, had a Master’s Degree and was eager to find a job that would sustain the family. How did she get in this position?
Although she had been a professional with a good job, several months back she was a victim of an auto accident in which someone plowed into her car. She was seriously injured, with complications lasting many months. She couldn’t continue to fulfill the duties of her job and the medical bills slowly eroded all the funds she had. A new job was difficult to find and when she came to me, she just had enough money to stay in the hotel for a couple more days, and then would be sleeping in her car. I was able to find a short-term fix for the immediate issue and offered assistance to help her determine a long-term solution.
That scenario, unfortunately, is becoming more frequent. It points to the fact that bad things are happening to very good, hard working people all around us – and that these factors are leading to families experiencing homelessness by no fault of their own. It is difficult to get an accurate count of the families experiencing homelessness, but we do know that there has been a 307% increase in the number of school-aged children known to be homeless in the past 10 years. It is a growing epidemic that we need to address as soon as humanly possible.
We know that the parents we work with have had to make very difficult decisions along the way, such as: to pay the light bill or feed the kids; to go to work or stay home with the kids since no child care is available; to buy medicine for a debilitating illness or pay for another night in a hotel to keep their children warm and safe. These are heart-wrenching decisions. Wouldn’t it be great if, together, we could come up with solutions to extinguish these harsh realities?
We have some ideas. What do you suggest? Please let us know if you have seen or experienced strategies that help families get back on their feet and find a safe place to call home.
All the best,
P.S. I had a call from this mother the other day. She was so thankful for the support we provided her in her time of need and wanted us to know that she did get a good-paying job.