Those familiar with the families we serve at Warren Village understand that homelessness and poverty have far-reaching impacts – even into future generations. This truth was magnified by the recent Denver Post investigative article – Homeless Students – that shed light on the physical, psychological and emotional effects of homelessness on school-aged children. Without stable housing, nutritious food, clean clothing and transportation, homeless children are frequently absent from school, transfer schools, perform more poorly on tests, are left back and have lower graduation rates. As a result, poverty and homelessness are often a cyclical, “double-generation” experience for children without housing stability.
So, what is the solution? How do we as a community adequately address these challenges? A “two-generation” approach to breaking cyclical poverty and homelessness is most effective because it focuses on creating opportunities for addressing the needs of both vulnerable parents and children together.
Early indications from emerging “two-generation” approaches highlight the importance of “mutual motivation” when both parents and children have access to opportunities. For many homeless single parent families, obtaining postsecondary education in order to make family-supporting wages is out of reach. For children experiencing homelessness, academic success and the ability to be self-sufficient in the future is uncertain.
This could have been the destiny of Espoire Bahati who lived at Warren Village in 2012 with his mother and two siblings. You may have heard me mention his story before. Espoire and his family immigrated to the United States from Africa after having lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for seven years to escape the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Rwandan terrorists shot and killed Espoire’s father and the three youngest children. His mother was critically injured, and although she lived, she was unable to work. During his first year in the United States, Espoire learned to speak and write English well enough to become a tutor for other students at East High School all while helping to support his mother and two younger siblings. Warren Village was able to be part of the journey for this family – providing stable housing and opportunities.
Without access to Warren Village’s “two-generation” program, Espoire may have been destined for a life of poverty and homelessness. Instead, Espoire was awarded a prestigious Daniels Scholarship. The award provided him a full-ride scholarship to any college of his choice. And while he was accepted into nine universities, he chose CU Boulder.
As a community, we can break cyclical poverty and homelessness by ensuring that single parents and their children have their basic needs met so they can build the capacity for higher earning power and ultimately self-sufficiency.
Your support of our program is a critcal part of our efforts. Thank you for your ongoing help!