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Homeless Families, Cloaked In Normality | Queens , New York | New York Times

ON the sixth day she was homeless, Tonya Lewis overslept. She woke in the dark, in Room 6E at the 93rd Avenue Family Residence, a privately run shelter in Jamaica, Queens. It was 4:45 a.m. She was already running late.

Rousting her children — Unique, 15, and Jacaery, 2 — from their beds, Ms. Lewis got them dressed and started shoving DVDs and diapers into two bulging tote bags. When the boys were ready — sleepy, sullen, hoodied, backpacked, in hats and winter jackets — she pushed them out the door (“Come on, we gotta go!”) to begin their daily routine.

It went like this:

They took the Q54 bus five stops to the J train. They took the J train 14 stops to Broadway Junction station. Unique hopped off and transferred to the C train, then the S train, then walked a distance to his classes at the High School for Global Citizenship in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Ms. Lewis, with Jacaery (pronounced Juh-CARE-ee) still in tow, transferred from the J to the L train. She took the L to the B6 bus in Brooklyn, which she rode to East New York, where she worked for an hour, and then reversed course — the B6 to the L to the J — to get Jacaery to his day care center in Bedford-Stuyvesant by 9.

All told, the odyssey required four hours, six trips on the subway and three trips on the bus, and suggests the changing nature of homelessness in New York. Unlike in the 1980s, when the crisis was defined by AIDS patients or men who slept on church steps, these days it has become more likely that a seemingly ordinary family, rushing about on public transportation with Elmo bags and video games, could be without a home.

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via New York Times