invisible homeless kids

Hard to imagine that in this country way over 1,500,000 kids are without homes. H-O-M-E-L-E-S-S Kids. I don't get it. Are we willing to discard these kids? Not me. So this blog will relentlessly focus on this issue, hoping to light a spark to fuel a compassion epidemic. Chime in, argue, but do something....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Most Invisible Because They're Tiny

Warning. If your heart breaks easily, this will break your heart. But sometimes we need to do that so we can get fired up. As homelessness surges upward like out of control flood waters, swirling around unnoticed are thousands of babies. It's a horrible picture, but it's one that we need to look at, and act.

I filmed this 4-minute video, Life is But a Dream, with touching song by one of my favorite songsters, Sara Thomsen, while in Boston a couple weeks ago, joining with the MA Campaign to End Child Homelessness.

Since I was stuck in their tiny parking lot until staff left, I asked if I could hang with the little ones with my video camera. Staff at the amazing Horizons for Homeless Children agreed.

What most people fail to realize, even those of us working with homeless families, is that according to a recent report by the National Center on Family Homelessness over 40% of homeless children are under the age of 5.
Those kids have the most to lose by a continued life of homelessness. But we all lose. It cost more. We deal with the aftermath of thousands of deprived lives, as these babies represent. And state budget cuts just announced in MA (to be followed in many other states) will make things horribly worse.

So, please watch this 4-minute video. It will inspire and infuriate you. Maybe it will move you. If so, check the HEAR US Compassion Epidemic page. Do something.

Seems to me it's time for people across this land that profess to be religious, spiritual, and caring to put the beliefs to work. Don't make me explain what happens when these neglected babies grow into adults.

top photo (c) Pat Van Doren


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Learning Curve Express Rolling!

The HEAR US LEARNING CURVE EXPRESS gives homeless families and teens a chance to be heard. And they need it like never before. In the dozens of years I've been working on this issue, the plight of homeless families and youth, as well as single adults, has never been more dismal.

Yes, we have a new administration in DC. President Obama, with his plate chock-full of critical issues, is trying his best. But it's not good enough. And lots of "other forces" are competing--with lots more resources and, well, let's say less compassion.

We're moving into winter--not that weather is the only dire factor with homelessness--but it's not to be ignored. Especially for kids.

Families and youth often don't get into shelters. Some communities don't have shelters. Sometimes people don't qualify for emergency housing or opt out for a variety of reasons--work schedule conflicts with shelter curfews, older boys are not allowed at the family shelter, pets are not allowed, etc. So they turn to a patchwork quilt of friends, family and/or motels. Or sleep in vehicles or tents. It's often not a pretty sight. (articles about homeless families/youth)

So far I've interviewed:

Laura and her 2 teen sons, from a rural town in Indiana, bounces from her parent's dilapidated single-wide trailer to other family and friends. They sleep on the floor. The trailer has holes in the floor and the family is too poor to pay for repairs.

From DeKalb, IL, Cathy and her 3 daughters struggled in a variety of places, family and friends' houses and expensive motels. All had their painful downsides.

In DuPage County (IL), Jacob and his sister tell of life in motels, where the entire family crammed in and tried to endure.

These families and teens on their own haven't registered a blip on the convoluted agenda driving Congressional priorities. But they need to.

So these courageous spokespersons will be sharing their stories with viewers everywhere, including their members of Congress. HEAR US will facilitate, but these experts will shine a light on this often invisible plight. (watch for these stories soon!)

HEAR US is joining forces with the National Center on Family Homelessness and their End
Child Homelessness campaign. We're not kidding. We need to end child homelessness NOW!

If you want to help, check our HEAR US Compassion Epidemic info and alerts. Or not.

Seems to me if we can ignore homeless kids in this country, it takes us down a slippery slope. I don't want to go there. I bet you don't either.

photos by the author