Millennium Post

Homelessness strikes hard in American capital

Homelessness strikes hard  in American capital
“That was the morning when we just didn’t know where we were going to be that night,” the 23-year-old recalled. “We were both out until about 12 o’clock that night -- making calls, asking people -- and no one would take us in as a family.”

Hall and her three-year-old Gabriel eventually found refuge at a homeless shelter. Her husband, 27, and their seven-year-old boy bunked down with relatives.

The African-American family has since been reunited -- in March, they moved into a four-room apartment run by Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington charity. But before that, life was a precarious series of low-paying jobs, nights on friends’ sofas and frustration.  Bathtub for a bed: Such families represent “the hidden homeless,” said Heather O’Malley, development director at Doorways for Women and Families, a charity in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia.
“Families are doubled up, tripled up, quadrupled up in apartments that are meant for only one person of one family,” O’Malley said.

“They’ll sleep on the floors, the couches, in bathtubs. They are sleeping in cars. And every day they don’t know where they are going to end up.”

In the greater Washington area, on a single day in June, some 1,900 families were homeless, up 11 percent from a year earlier, according to a report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

And Hall’s two boys are among 2.5 million children -- one in 30 youngsters in America -- who experienced homeless at some point in 2013. For the National Coalition for the Homeless, that figure is “historic.” Of all industrialized nations, it says, the United States has the most homeless people.Dawud -- a 52-year-old military veteran turned cook who has been jobless for eight months, and who provided only his first name -- said he was evicted from his home three years ago.

A single parent, he and his 12-year-old daughter lived temporarily in the living room of friends before ultimately finding housing in Arlington, across the Potomac River from the US capital. “It hurts because you feel like you’re a failure in life,” he said, summing up his experience with homelessness.  “Living with other people, you feel you’re not part of society. I felt like I was failing my daughter as a parent.”


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