A couple of days ago I was talking with a friend of mine who is also homeless and they were saying to me that I should try adding some of my "natural sense of humor" into the postings I write for this blog so that it would be more "entertaining."
I’ve thought about it, but since I’m writing about the things that I’m experiencing being homeless, there is very little that is actually humorous. And, for the most part, there is very little in my life that occurs which I find entertaining. My life is filled with the struggle to try and survive and at the same time find a way out of my dilemma.
Actually, homelessness is quite a serious and disheartening situation – sometimes even more than others. That doesn’t make for rib busting, knee slapping, and belly laughing types of writing. And, although, there are a couple of times when something that I’ve written which strikes me as funny, overall what is coming out are the heartaches of homelessness.
Which leads me to this…
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.
All across this country, Moms of all ages are going to be receiving telephone calls, flowers, Mother’s Day cards, Mother’s Day e-cards, e-mails, chocolates and whatever. And that’s good. Mothers should be honored and recognized – and so should Fathers.
But there are a lot of moms who won’t be getting a thing. The reason is that they’re homeless moms.
There are a number of them here in San Luis Obispo. Some of them have small children. Some have toddlers. And, some have infants.
I was browsing the Internet yesterday for about an hour and I was on a site that gave me some statistics about homelessness in America.
One statistic that made me cringe said that 40% of all of America’s homeless are families – with the large majority of those "families" being single parent families. More accurately, they are single mothers with dependant children. The average age for these children is between the ages of 2 and 6!
Some people believe that the solution is to take the children away from their mothers and place them into foster care or some other type of child protective service facility. The reasoning behind that mode of thinking is that if the mother is homeless then it must be her own fault.
Admittedly, there are women who have become homeless as a direct result of "unsavory" actions or because of drug or alcohol abuse, but more and more women are becoming homeless for reasons that everyone seems to ignore.
Many women with children end up homeless due to domestic violence, divorce (and dead-beat dads), loss of a spouse to death, loss of employment – and a variety of other social or economic reasons.
The National Coalition For The Homeless web site reports that the ever shrinking number of affordable housing units, lack of livable wage jobs and a rising economic inflation level to be among the top reasons that more and more people are becoming homeless each year.
On the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) web site, there is posted a report that was sent to Congress just this year, regarding homelessness in America. The data, statistics and other information in the report is enough to make one be ashamed of the way our country has ignored the ever-growing problem of homelessness.
What gets me about the report is that (to use HUD’s own words)…
"The Annual Homeless Assessment Report marks the first time since 1984 that HUD has reported the number of homeless people in the United States."
On another web site – again about homelessness – one figure that was given regarding the overall numbers of homeless in America stated that there has been a 9% increase in the number of persons who have become homeless just recently.
And all the while, most Americans continue to see the homeless as a problem that can be addressed by simply adopting and amending laws and ordinances that continue to criminalize homelessness and the activities associated with homelessness.
Even our nations’ homeless children are being affected.
In some cities across our nation, many of them are being denied an opportunity to receive an education simply because their parents do not have a permanent address within the "school district."
Mothers with dependant children are hard pressed to find employment because they have no place to leave their children while they seek work. Those who do find a job are hard pressed to find a pre-school or day care center that they can afford and still feed their children. The end result is that these families remain homeless because their meager incomes are going toward paying pre-school tuition’s and day care center fees. And, in the end it becomes a vicious cycle that is difficult to get out of.
Yes, homelessness is a growing problem all across our nation, but not for the stereotypical reasons that the large majority of Americans believe.
Until we, as a nation, decide to get off our behinds and find realistic and effective ways of dealing with this issue, the number of mothers who will spend their Mother’s Day at a homeless shelter will continue to grow…
…And that’s sad.
Happy "Homeless" Mother’s Day