As part of our ongoing conversation on homelessness, we asked members of the Family Promise network and individuals working to serve families experiencing homelessness to share their personal thoughts and reflections on Family Promise and the issue of family homelessness. These writers are true thought leaders, using their skills and expertise to develop and implement creative solutions that are changing the lives of parents and children in their communities.
This article was written by Claas Ehlers, CEO of Family Promise, for Medium.
Family matters. Family has always been the one constant in your life.
When your sister dies out of state, you travel to the funeral. Even though you can’t afford it — you’re already spending nearly half of your income on rent.
Your Honda was on its last legs before the trip and the starter finally dies. It’s $500 you don’t have, but without a car, you have no job. So, you take out a payday loan to cover the repair.
When rent comes due you’re short, and your landlord doesn’t want to hear your explanations.
Your friend Sonia takes you in — your three kids on a couch and you on the floor. Not a home, but you’re together.
After a couple of weeks, Sonia’s landlord finds out you’re there, and Sonia asks you to leave. You and the kids sleep in your car behind the shopping mall for one long, cold week. You may be homeless, but you’re together.
Your uncle wires you a few hundred bucks to rent a room at a cheap motel. A single room, with an open-air drug market in the parking lot. There’s no kitchen so the kids are eating canned food. It’s not a home, but you are together.
When the money runs out, as a last resort, you find space in a homeless shelter. Your teenaged son can’t join you because he’s too old, so he stays with a friend across town. But you and the younger children are under one roof.
Family matters — even if you can’t all be together.