Saturday, February 23, 2008
Explain It To Me Like I'm a 6-Year Old
Beach towns are nice, especially for us "snow birds" who flee the wintry mess that makes everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line real miserable.
We're now filming in the Panhandle of Florida. Yes, they have plenty of homeless adults, and a shocking number of homeless families with children. One local advocacy group, the EscaRosa Coalition for the Homeless, offers some sobering numbers to dispel myths that homelessness is just the visible adults who dot cities and towns nationwide.
In our interviews of kids whose families have experienced homelessness, we hear much of the same story--hurt, embarrassment, fear, hopes, dreams and determination--all fueled by their experiences of homelessness. The kids' stories are amazing, and worth getting, if only to be inspired. Our documentary, My Own Four Walls, will set you back $20 bucks, proceeds which help our cool organization, HEAR US, continue to give voice and visibility to homeless kids and families.
Last week I went e-scouting for homelessness indicators in the counties around here. I won't embarrass the county educator I spoke with, but let me lay out my premise and see if I make sense to my readers:
Homelessness and poverty go hand-in-hand. If you look at an area's poverty stats by going to the Census Bureau site, you'll find CONSERVATIVE ( gross underestimates by my thinking) numbers and percentages of poverty in a town or county. Look up a county, click on the map link, follow the directions to identify the poverty area.
The particular county official who is supposed to be helping homeless students with school issues said, "We haven't identified any homeless students." Bull feathers!
If you look at this county and follow the map, you'll see the geographic area with the most concentration of poverty. Look up the schools in that area, find out how many students are receiving free lunch (qualify by poverty) and just know that AT LEAST 10% of those students are going to experience homelessness.
The county I examined has a town with a poverty pocket and schools where up to half (hundreds) of the students were getting free lunch.
Seems to me someone is missing some real basic math lessons. Ignoring homelessness doesn't make it go away. It makes it worse.