Lost housing, doubled up, staying with others.
For thousands of students in Kansas, with and without parents, who have nowhere to go, doubled up means instability, tensions, and worse….
High mobility, poverty, trauma, family crises, coupled with the lack of safe and affordable housing options combine to create an onslaught of families and youth with nowhere to go. Over 70% of the more than 10,000 KS students identified as homeless are doubled up, temporarily staying in the housing of others.
Many go unidentified…but HEAR US Inc. invites them to tell their stories in these short video clips.
Doubled up families and youth often are exposed to violence and abuse with no escape. Reliant on others for housing, often because shelters are overcrowded, nonexistent or not appropriate for many reasons, they desperately turn to anyone willing to take them in.
Often families or young persons on their own don’t connect their hardships with the official status of “homeless” and they don’t share details about their nomadic conditions. “Hard times” and “couch surfing,” euphemisms for homelessness, often mask the shame and turmoil they experience.
Fragile arrangements to stay with others often include the “walking on egg shells” mindset, a reliable predictor of the “worn out welcome mat” syndrome.
Also hidden is the instability and danger they face. Unscrupulous hosts—whether family, friends or acquaintances—may take advantage of the desperate plight of their lodgers. Sex abuse, human trafficking and prostitution can be the price for a place to stay or cause an ill-conceived option to escape the predator-host.
Once trapped in the homelessness vortex, it becomes almost impossible to escape. Not officially deemed “homeless,” a bureaucratic barricade erected by HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, they don’t qualify for assistance. Slashed human service budgets means little help is available.
Through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, tremendous support for students experiencing homelessness may be available in the form of school supplies, coats, backpacks, shoes, food and toiletries to meet immediate needs. Homeless liaisons, required in each district, may also connect students with community resources, tutoring, and extracurricular activities.
Identifying students experiencing hidden homelessness and determining their needs is crucial to ensure academic success. Alert school personnel may pick up clues of housing instability, perhaps clarifying underlying reasons for a student’s struggles.
Homelessness. Yes, that term bears plenty of negative stigmas, but it comes in many shapes. Identifying doubled up students allows for barriers to academic success to dissolve, giving them the opportunity to focus on the only stability they know—school routines.
To join the effort to get the bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act passed, go to www.helphomelesskidsnow.org and TAKE ACTION.