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Today is 10.01.2016

Event Shows That Homelessness Defies Stereotypes | Indianapolis , Indiana | IndyStar.com

Five years ago in the sweltering heat of July, Kayona Bingham and her three kids bounded off a Greyhound bus in Indianapolis, ready to move into their new, HUD-funded home.

Instead, thanks to bureaucratic tie-ups, the family ended up spending three days sleeping at the Downtown bus station. Then another month at a shelter. And that was after a month of bouncing from one relative’s house to another relative’s house in South Bend.

The Binghams were homeless, Kayona told me without shame Wednesday.

And why should she be ashamed?

The truth is, being homeless can happen to just about anybody. Young or old. Black or white. Military vet or draft dodger. Lazy or hard-working. People with entire wardrobes of brand-name clothes or people with only the dirty jeans and jackets on their backs.

All of this was clear Wednesday just from looking at the crowd milling about the Indiana Convention Center for Homeless Connect. The annual event, put on by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, helps people with everything from finding housing to getting a haircut.

Kayona, 36, these days helps survivors of domestic violence as an employee of Fresh Start of Indiana and also is on CHIP’s board. She worked as a volunteer at Homeless Connect.

She surveyed the crowd and noted the differences between the stereotypes of homelessness and the reality of it.

“Just because they’re well-dressed and clean-cut doesn’t mean they’re not homeless. Not everybody who is homeless lives directly on the street,” she said. “I consider couch-surfing as homelessness.”