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Homelessness: The Answer Is Blowin' in the (TX) Wind

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doubled up
Anyone in their right mind would not choose to spend 6 weeks on Texas’ backroads during this, one of their many stifling seasons. I’m heading down to film a very special subject. You see, Texas, for all their bragging, has a heap of homelessness they don’t like to acknowledge. One in ten homeless kidslives in the Lone Star State. And I’m going down to help the unenlightened come to grips with it.

The reason I do what I do, give voice and visibility to homeless children and youth under the banner of my nonprofit HEAR US Inc., is because of people like “Jackie,” a mom who shared her thoughts with me recently.  She, without prompting, described her and her son’s slide into homelessness after her marriage broke up. She had not been homeless before. In fact, she came from a solid family, is well educated, and to my knowledge she’s not suffering from the stereotypical maladies—drugs, alcohol, mental illness—that allow society to throw people away.

She wrote: she and her son were homeless

“…with no access to shelters (three month to three year wait list). We were able to ‘visit’ family and friends for a while, but then those welcomes wore out, and then we were ‘camping out!’ --- sleeping in the car, once a real campground for a fee, once a hotel parking lot while the night front desk clerk kindly directed us to the far corner of the lot for less visibility, and the ground floor restroom, so we could wash up. She even gave us towels. But I was able to keep a chin up, as they say, because I was able to think of our situation as 'camping out!’"

Fortunately, their camping season is over. But countless families with no place to call home and no access to any safe alternative still struggle to survive night-by-night.

As we prepare to blast Syria into oblivion, an activity we seem to be able to afford despite the constraints on human services federal spending, our esteemed lawmakers seem to focus on just about anything but millions of struggling families. Maybe it’s their way of coping with a problem they don’t want to face, sort of like “shopping therapy” for the rest of us. I wonder...

  • How many people know someone who has hit the wall of homelessness?
  • How many have taken in a family or individual who lost housing?
  • How many readers of this post are or have been homeless?
  • How many households are “one paycheck away” from homelessness? 

These would be questions whose answers would shock most clueless ones, including (especially) members of Congress. Predictably, they’ll dance in the aisle to the cartoonish tune of homelessness abating, a guffaw-inducing story that’s circulating by delusional sorts who never knew how to count homelessness in the first place.

The band-aid type answers implemented in communities, like Seminole County (Disney World area), FL are proving to be a tad frustrating. They raised a cool $1.4 mil, but are finding it insufficient. Well, yeah, when you ignore thousands of people over the years, it tends to be expensive to ease them back into a productive, self-sufficient mode, especially when you whack their safety net to shreds.

Sometimes I feel like I’m spitting upwind. But then I hear from people like Jackie who affirm my efforts. I’d love bunches more of you to join me on my travels, via Facebook, if you dare. Funny thing, this Facebook…it has generated a ton of interest and perhaps even more compassion among my circles, plus it has connected me with some very wise, albeit homeless, parents and teens.

As Jackie astutely shared, homelessness doesn’t take one path, nor come in one size. I’ll be examining and chronicling the part of homelessness for some Texas families and youth that finds them moving about in doubled-up situations, bouncing from couch to couch, not knowing when they’ll have to move or where their next stop will be. “Worn Out Welcome Mat—Texas” will give viewers a look at the doubled up phenomenon that seems to defy comprehension.

Homelessness is what happens when you lose housing and have no place of your own to stay for any number of reasons. How hard is that to understand?