The face of homelessness might not be what you think

This year I have been appointed as Homeless Coordinator for the school district I work for. This new responsibility has opened up a whole new world to me, one I somehow had dealt with, but didn’t know I was doing it.

I’m talking about the hundreds of kids who for one reason or another have lost their houses and are now living in unstable situations.

When most people think about homelessness they think about adults and those adults are, most of the time, thought of as people who live in the streets on their own, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and with mental, drugs, alcohol and other kind of problems.

I thought so too, but now I come to realize that, especially in the current financial crisis, the face of homelessness is sometimes 4, 6, 7 years old and so on. People who live in their cars, couch browsing, in some friend’s basement, etc. People who have no physical or mental problems, but have been let go of their jobs, have lost their savings and with them everything else.

Luckily Wisconsin, according to the national data, hasn’t hit the extremely critical numbers that other states South of us are showing, but this is not reason to feel “good” about it since it might just be a matter of time as this crisis continues. Furthermore, one single child who doesn’t know where (if) will go to bed tonight is enough reason to be concerned.

Beside all this hard reality, the situation of many of these families makes me wonder what would I do if I was in their situation. After all, many of them thought, just as I have, that there was no way they’d be in the situation they’re currently are, that their business would not go down with the economy or that the weren’t likely to be laid off and all of the sudden here they are wandering around with their children and all their remaining possessions on plastic bags.

What to do? Be kind, be aware that this is a situation that might knock your door any day and that you will want a kind hand extended toward you. Well, right now there’s somebody else who needs your hand extended toward them.

Here are some resources you might want to check out in order to learn more about homeless kids and youth and also about what’s been done around your community:

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Financially-strapped Schools Help Financially-struggling Families
(watch the videos in this article)

Education for Homeless Children and Youth

Kenosha Schools Homeless Education Program

Change.org: End Homelessness

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