Newsletter (March 12, 2024)

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The New York Times released a special feature titled ‘Voices from Inside America’s Homelessness Crisis,’ which focuses on the personal experiences of individuals living through America’s growing homelessness crisis. It emphasizes the importance of listening to those directly affected, revealing the diversity in their experiences and the solutions they envision.

Notably, this feature includes the experiences of families who are doubling-up as a hidden but prevalent form of homelessness that creates barriers to accessing help. It also includes the experiences of families in motels, as well as people who are in cars, shelters, and encampments.

Through surveys, videos, and personal stories, the piece illustrates the complex reasons leading to homelessness, including economic factors, lack of affordable housing, and systemic barriers. It challenges stereotypes and calls for more inclusive discussions involving those experiencing homelessness in finding sustainable solutions. 

An Accompanying Audio Version on Couch Surfing

An accompanying audio version titled “For This Family, It’s Not ‘Couch Surfing’, It’s Homelessness” was also released. It features the voice of Jackie Randolph, 34, who is staying with her five children in a bedroom at her ex-partner’s place in Cincinnati.

She describes their constrained living conditions: “We have to be quiet. We can’t talk loudly. We can’t have fun. We can’t do anything. It’s like living in jail. We have to be sneaky because of the neighbors. They’re really set in their ways and aren’t open to having anyone stay over who doesn’t live there.”

Sheltered or unsheltered, homeless is homeless. This is Eric’s story.

“I grieve for the younger me brushing his teeth in the gas station bathroom. That time of my life is over, but it still impacts me to this day. Looking back, I had various physical roofs over my head while I was experiencing homelessness, but the instability, lack of resources, trauma, and abuse I faced under those roofs at times made it worse than not having one at all.”

Take Action!

Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness are shut out of government services and benefits because they do not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) restrictive definition of homelessness. This definition does not include temporarily staying with other people (doubling up), or staying in motels that are not paid for by government or charity.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act fixes this problem by aligning federal definitions of homelessness for children and youth, streamlining assistance, leveraging resources, and bringing greater visibility to the reality of family and youth homelessness.

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