Okay, let’s set the scene. You’re a single parent with a child. You work full time for $14. You bring home roughly $800 per paycheck. Your bills: $1000 rent, $150 electrical, $250 car payment, $150 car insurance. So let’s do the math. You bring home about $1600 a month and your bills average about $1550, give or take. You’re making it, but barely. (This doesn’t even include groceries, internet, cable, cell phone, etc; nor does it include child tax credit or child support)
Now, it’s a really cold December and you get a power bill for $600. How do you pay that? To put it simply, you don’t. Because you can’t. So your power gets shut off. But you know what your lease says? It says you get evicted if your utilities are terminated. So now you’re in court, crying to a judge who doesn’t care, and you have 10 days to get out.
Well, you’re in luck! Because you found somewhere with 3 days to spare and it’s only $650 a month! But to get in, you have to pass a background & credit check. Which you can’t, because you just got evicted. You’ve never been a criminal, but even if you could pass it, you’re looking at $1300 to move in, after paying the deposit and first month’s rent.
Time’s up! Landlord shows up at 7am with the police and changed your locks. So now you’re living in your car with your 7 year old son and everything you need to get by. You tried to get a storage unit, but you don’t have a billing address so they won’t sell one to you, so you could only take what would fit in your backseat. You pay to shower at local truck stops and eat whatever can be cooked in a gas station microwave. Someone sees you and your son living like this and calls CPS; guess what happens next. They remove your child from your care. As if this isn’t devastating enough, you lose your job too, because “an employee losing their child reflects poorly on this company.”
So now, you apply for an apartment with the region, where the waiting list is 3-7 years. Then you go into WalMart to put in an application. When you get back to your car, you see that your back window has been smashed and someone helped themselves to your belongings. Remember that it is December, and really cold, and now you have damage to your only shelter. You call your car insurance, who says your deductible is $1,000 AND they’re going to increase your monthly rate since you’re now “high risk.” You call the homeless shelter as a last resort…..and all their beds are full.
I’ll stop here, because I think you get the point. The people we work with everyday are these people. WE ARE THESE PEOPLE. We are all so close to homelessness and don’t even realize it. All it takes is one unexpected bill, one fender bender, one lay-off, one house fire, etc.
Instead of talking trash about people who are poor or homeless or need assistance, why don’t you try being thankful that you’re not in their shoes… yet.
This is about staying humble and being kind. BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE.