Hope in the Dark: Homelessness Awareness Week part II

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTdYaqKxxsk]


There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are people living on the streets. Mental health issues, tragedies, abuse, neglect, broken homes, failed systems, addiction - more often than not there are several reasons, a vicious cycle. While working at a shelter for battered women in Vancouver I was told several stories that started with abusive and addicted parents, failing foster care, gaps in the system were children seemed to be swallowed up and disappear, runaways, more abuse and addiction - one thing led to another that upheld the cycle that led to homelessness. When looking at homelessness, we need to look deeper than the mere lack of housing - we need to take a good long look at the systems where people who need help fall between institutions.

Photo borrowed from Humans of New York.

“We’ve been in the shelter system ever since their father was murdered. We needed his paycheck to pay the rent. We had no choice. He had a good job at the Pepsi factory. We were engaged at the time, and we were about to move upstate. We were even planning to take a trip to Disney World. But when he died, a part of me died. I went into a depression. Everything was moving around me, but I was at a standstill. I didn’t want to do my hair. I didn’t want to be bothered with the kids. We used to go to the park and play, but after their father was killed, we were homebodies. I just wanted to stay at home and cry.”

This is one of a series of portraits featuring residents and staff of the Win Homeless Shelter for Women And Children, by photographer Brandon of Humans of New York.

This week is homelessness awareness week, culminating with the Hope In The Dark event this Saturday May 30th, organized by Centre of Hope. I know most of us wont be able to be there and spend the night outside. If you are unable to attend the outdoors sleepover, please think of your reasons why – and imagine having the same reasons, but no choice. There is no home. Whether you feel sick or have things to do or children to care for; there’s no choice. Even if you can’t attend, please spread the word, join the discussion, donate or volunteer – and help us end homelessness.