I Am Waters Foundation

Today is 09.27.2016

The Many Faces Of Homelessness | Huffington Post

There is a visual impression implanted in the minds of so many in this country of what people who experience homelessness are supposed to look like. It is an illustration that all homeless populations consist of those we see begging for money on street corners, sleeping on park benches or caring all their possessions around with them. These are individuals that we remember well from the 1970s and ’80s, which were people that had addiction and/or mental health issues. While there is still a percentage of the homeless population today that are represented by individuals with these experiences they are considered the chronically homeless.

More recently, the country has witnessed a surge in families experiencing homelessness. Here is an example of one such family. Luis was a teenager; he faced hardships that no child should have to endure. Luis lost his father and brother in the same year due to health-related issues. He still had the support of his mother and sisters, but caring for three small children alone became a burden on his mother. The family faced homelessness and eventually, had to live on the streets for a period of time. They were fortunate to be able to find a place to live, but his family turned to collecting empty cans and bottles on the street in order to make ends meet. As if these struggles were not hard enough, Luis lost his mother a few years later. Any ordinary person may have given up hope, but Luis recalls that positive memories of his mother helped him get through these challenging moments in his life. He eventually moved in with his sister and completed high school. Luis is now an active youth disciple at his church and uses his life experience to uplift others.

Families are a newer face to homelessness that run the gamut, due to situations regarding financial instabilities, not having access to health care, unemployment, lack of affordable housing and the recent trend of foreclosures. However, the youth have their own face to homelessness as well, such as those who either run away from home or age out of the foster care system with no guidance and resort to “couch surfing.” This is a group that is blending in with their counterparts in our school systems, making their situation invisible.