A Precariously Housed Mom

Posted: May 10, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Family, Government, Homelessness, Money, Politics

Earlier this week, I met a young woman who had her two and a half month infant daughter with her.

In her late twenties, this young mother mentioned that she and her daughters’ father were living with his parents. He had lost his job just shortly after she had become pregnant and they had taken them in.

Fortunately this young man has been able to re-acquire employment. It doesn’t pay as much as his previous job – which more and more lately seems to be the trend. Folks who find themselves unemployed will often times discover that the only new job they can find doesn’t pay anywhere near what their previous position did.  

The house they all share is small two bedroom residence. Just the right size for an older retired couple who may have a house guest for a day or two at a time, but not much more than that. Now, however, with the three of them also living there, things are a bit cramped for everyone.

The tight living quarters are beginning to take its toll on the young couple. There is some straining in the relationship between the parents and the young woman. This is creating some friction between the young man and his parents as well. He is trying to remain respectful to his parents. He is also trying to be supportive of his child’s mother. It’s a balancing act that he doesn’t seem to be handling all too well.

They have applied for subsidized low income housing – or as it’s commonly referred to: Section 8 Housing. Their names however have gone on a waiting list with the many other folks who have applied. I’m not exactly sure, but I believe it’s a first come, first served type of deal. So once you’ve applied, you have to wait while your name makes its way through the queue.

According to what this young woman told me, although nothing has actually been said outright, she is under the impression that the parents are putting pressure on their son to find a place for himself, the young woman and their child as a quickly as possible.

I don’t know whether her assessment of the situation is accurate or not. It could be. It could also be that with the increasing friction between everyone escalating, that she is reading more into it than is really there. The one thing which is real is her fear that she, her child’s father and the child will soon find themselves homeless.

This young family is just one of who knows how many young families who are "couch homeless."

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless web site’s, New report on "couch-homeless," precariously housed people, the nationwide overall estimates of those who are couch homeless, is around 1.65 percent of the American population – which would translate to a little over 4 million people who are precariously housed.

With more and more people who have become unemployed because of job closures; the record numbers of foreclosures; the shrinking affordable housing market; and numerous other economic factors, I’m willing to venture a guess that there are going to be more and more people who will find themselves becoming precariously housed. For some of them, becoming couch homeless will be a prelude to becoming "street homeless."

Despite this however, Federal funding for homeless support services have been drastically cut back. Yet, Congress seems to have no lack of taxpayer dollars when it comes to "pork barrel" spending.

I fail to see how our nation’s legislators can justify spending taxpayer dollars on nonsense while so many of our nation’s families are existing on the very brink of becoming homeless.

It’s funny how Congress can’t seem to find a method of providing adequate funding to implement programs which could help the homeless become self-sustaining – and in the process put them back on the tax rolls. But, they don’t seem to have a problem with continuing to find the money to pay for all of the perks and trappings of their elected positions.

It seems to me that if more families spent their money as foolishly as Congress spends taxpayer dollars, there would be even more families on the streets than there are already.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

I wonder how many mothers who will have a roof over their heads this Mother’s Day will find themselves homeless next Mother’s Day? Although she is precariously housed this Mother’s Day I hope the young mother I met earlier this week won’t be one of those who will be on the street next year.

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