Two Paychecks Away…

Posted: March 11, 2009 in Children, Compassion, Employment, Family, Homelessness, Housing, Misconceptions, Morality

I wrote about it yesterday morning. Then, at different times throughout the day, I read through well over 150 news articles from all over the nation – and a number from various other parts of the world. They all carried the same message: 1 in 50 American children endure homelessness.

Not exactly something of which our country should take pride in. If anything, we should be hanging our collective heads in shame.  

It would be easy to try and shift the blame onto the parents. After all, their children are their responsibility. They are the ones who should have taken every precaution necessary to insure that their children had a roof over their heads and food on the table. So it’s the parents fault. Right?


The failing economy has made it difficult for even the hardest working parent to provide for their children. Job losses totaling well over a million in the last four months; lack of affordable housing; the skyrocketing cost of health care: all of these have contributed to the high numbers of homeless children in our nation.

For many, chasing the American dream has become more like a nightmare.

And to make matters worse, a press release issued by MetLife a couple of days ago gives clear indication that many more children are likely to face homelessness before the end of the year.

The press release summarized the 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream, and stated:

"Work – and the paycheck and benefits associated with it – is the linchpin holding together the American dream, according to The 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream, which was released today. A disturbing 50% of Americans say they are only one month – or only two paychecks – or less away from not being able to meet their financial obligations if they were to lose their job, and more than half of these, a startling 28% of the total respondents, couldn’t survive financially for more than two weeks. Even the ‘mass affluent’ – those making $100,000+ in income per year – aren’t immune with more than one-quarter (29%) saying that they couldn’t meet their financial obligations for more than one month following a job loss."

But it doesn’t end there.

Many two-income earning families are finding both wage earners unemployed at the same time.

An MSNBC article, Recession leaving some couples without work, said this:

"The lengthy recession is delivering a double blow to some American families, leaving both spouses without a job at the same time. The dual loss of income – and the difficult prospect of finding two new jobs – has some facing deep financial fears, including losing their homes and taking on expensive health care costs without the safety net of an employer’s insurance plan. It also is threatening the stability of some families, who are looking at a future very unlike the one they planned for.

The job losses also are creating a ripple effect across extended families, as family members step in to help unemployed relatives in some cases, or can no longer count on financial help from them in others."

I was haunted by the phrase: "… families, who are looking at future very unlike the one they planned for."

The future that many of them had been hoping for was one of providing their children a better life. Now many of them will face the possibility becoming homeless.

Some will have a safety net in the form of family or friends with who they can double up. For those who lack someone who can take them in, if they are fortunate enough, will be able to find safe sleeping arraignments at their local area shelters. Some, however, will ultimately be turned away for lack of space and resources.

The nation’s homeless of today are not the homeless of yesteryear. They are not the lazy, good for nothing drunks, derelicts, drug addicts or bums we assume them to be. They are hard working, decent folk who have been victimized by economic recession. They are the antithesis of the homeless stereotype.

Yet, because the stereotypes have become so ingrained in our societal psyche, we often times fail to recognize them as casualties.

In these strained economic times, it is imperative that we come together as a nation and be willing to extend a hand of compassion to our fellow citizens – particularly for the sake of our nation’s homeless children.

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men."
    ~ Herman Melville ~

  1. Ms Weiss says:

    In my opinion, the H-1B visa and employment-based green card programs pose the greatest threats to the careers and livelihoods of white collar Americans. As Professor Norman Matloff (of UC-Davis) has written, the “prevailing wage” regulations for the H-1B visas and EB green card programs are riddled with loopholes that allow employers to underpay the foreign professional workers with respect to their American counterparts. The foreign workers are more than willing to accept these lower pay rates in exchange for the chance to be sponsored for an EB green card, which conveys legal permanent residence.

    The vast majority of U.S. – based employers are classified as “H-1B non-dependent”. These employers can legally fire or layoff their American workers and replace them with (lower-paid) H-1B workers, even if the Americans are performing well in their jobs.

    Therefore, I believe that as the economy continues to contract, Americans are in even greater danger of being displaced by foreign workers on H-1B visas.

    The H-1B and employment-based green card programs should be shut down.

  2. Skye says:

    It’s really scary that it takes two wage earners in a household to make ends meet as it is. Even when worse comes to worst, if one or the other lost a job, they could say “we’ll get by until you get another job”. NOW so many are getting laid off that there isn’t even the “other paycheck” to fall back on, nor is there a likely hood of quickly finding a new job.

    We’re in bad shape here in America, and it looks to get worse before it gets better. How anyone can be ignorant enough to think that a homeless person, or family, chooses to be homeless, or that it’s “their fault” is beyond me.

  3. LC from Bama says:

    I am in a $100K a year plus status. I am on my own, always. I better never forget that. I work for “the other man” and if I didn’t get paid every two weeks I couldn’t meet my financial obligations long term either. I have never been smart enough to assure myself of the lifestyle I enjoy from a big paycheck. It is the very nature of big paychecks that preclude that becoming a reality. When I started I lived in a house trailer I rented. If that’s the best I can do at some point in the future, that is what I will do.


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