At least 750,000 men, women, and children in America will go to bed today in an emergency shelter, in shared quarters with a relative, or in some other setting that defines them as homeless. Over 1,660 experience homelessness each night in Austin. These families live and work in relative obscurity. Many have become homeless due to a housing, health care, or financial crisis. They’ve exhausted their network of family and friends they can turn to for help.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “families experiencing homelessness are similar to other, housed families living in poverty. Many poor families – homeless or not – share similar characteristics: they are usually headed by a single woman with limited education, are usually young, and have high rates of domestic violence and mental illness.
Some families living in poverty, however, fall into homelessness, usually due to some unforeseen financial challenge, such as a death in the family, a lost job, or an unexpected bill, creating a situation where the family cannot maintain housing.”
Homelessness is especially stressful for children. They often worry they will have no place to live or no place to sleep, and school attendance is often poor. In the 2011-2012 school year, 1,168,354 homeless children were enrolled in preschools and K-12 programs. Nationally, these numbers represent a 10 percent jump over the previous school year, and a stunning 72 percent increase since the beginning of the recession in 2008.