I recently returned to work after maternity leave. My two daughters, 2 years old and 8 weeks old, were in childcare as I turned on my computer and sifted through 700 emails that accrued in my absence. It was a bittersweet feeling—the emotions of leaving them, combined with the excitement of returning to a job that I am passionate about. While it is difficult to be apart from them, my daughters serve as a reminder of why I do what I do. Each day I go to work and I come home to them. My toddler laughs and asks to go “oush-side” to play in the yard. My newborn sleeps quietly in a bassinet. And looking at them I think about the fact that not everyone has a home to come home to.
In 2015 the National Low Income Housing Coalition released it housing report “Out of Reach”. The map below details what the minimum wage would need to be in each state in order to afford the average 2 bedroom apartment in that state. Historically we’ve been taught that if you work hard you will be able to provide for your family. This map demonstrates that work does not always equate to
stability. This map shifts the perception of homelessness.
I don’t know what the answer is. Some people believe that we need to raise the minimum wage. Others believe that we need to provide more affordable/subsidized housing. What I do know is that until we figure it out, we need to work in community. That’s where Family Promise comes in.
Working with Family Promise we have the privilege of serving children and their families experiencing homelessness. Through a community-based response, we are able to work with families to find responses to barriers that would otherwise seem insurmountable. How do you find an affordable apartment for a family of four in a market that has less than 1% vacancy rate? How do you do that if the family’s income is limited? Or if there are medical bills coming in? Or childcare needs? This is what Family Promise Affiliates do every day. We provide a temporary home until stability is reached—so that at the end of the day more children and families will have a home to come home to.
While on some level it’s been difficult to return to work and be away from my girls, each day I get to be part of a community that is impacting positive change on families just like ours. I want to show my girls that we live in a time that hard work isn’t enough. It is by working together and supporting one another that we succeed.