As cost of living rises while income doesn’t, and many low-wage employees find their jobs replaced by machines or oversees workers, homelessness has become a terrible reality for many families. Thankfully, homeless family resources such as shelters and job seeking programs can provide a vital lifeline to let these families get back on their feet. Many cultures take the winter holidays to think about charity and helping our communities, and this inspired me to share this heart-breaking and amazing short documentary about the families at the YWCA shelter in Columbus, OH.
The documentary starts with some pretty scary statistics. In 2009, the shelter board allocated around $5,000 to overflow homeless family resources. In the summer of 2011, they needed nearly one million dollars to provide overflow care. In July 2010, the shelter was forced to turn away 119 families that came for aid because they didn’t have the space to serve them. This past summer, that number jumped to 1,000 seeking aid that couldn’t be accommodated. And 60% of these families needing shelter are new to the homeless resource system.
The video then focuses on two families living in the shelter. The first are Andrew and April and their three kids. While both parents are still working, the family lost their home when Andrew’s higher paying job went over seas. Then we meet Keishauna, who lost her job and after marriage problems found herself a single mom of a young girl after 10 years of marriage. We follow Keishauna as she searches for a new job and an apartment that will lease to her.
I usually feel like homelessness is so far away from me. I had a real wake up call after an article in the SF Chronicle that stated more and more families–everyday families like myself and my neighbors–are winding up homeless. In fact, the Chronicle reported that there are 2,200 homeless children in the San Francisco public school system, 400 more than just last year. Chances are, your child knows and is friends with a kid who is homeless or on the brink of homelessness.
As the documentary says, “To raise a family with nothing, not even a home, takes immeasurable strength.” I amazed at the families shown in this video, especially Keishauna as she stays strong and supportive for her daughter and continues to smile through all her misfortunes. Check out this well-made documentary and please consider donating clothes, furniture, toys, and any other useful used items from your house to your local shelter. If you are struggling yourself, I encourage you to explore the homeless family resources available at your local shelter. You’ll find wonderful, kind people and lots of job and home hunting help to give you a lifeline. Visit http://www.familyhomelessness.org/ for information and directories.