As the main page of the New York Times opened up, a headline from the sidebar caught my eye.
‘Over 22,000 homeless children in New York city …”
What? So much? I clicked on the article to read it. It was the last of a five-part series, and so I started from the top.
‘Invisible Child’ – an investigative series by Andrea Elliot of the New York Times, follows Dasani and her family for about a year. It chronicles the daily life of a homeless child, their highlights, and more often than not, the downsides of daily life.
As I read the series, I was dismayed. We see the homeless adults walking about on the street; but we don’t see the children of these. We see a family out on the street, and as we look at them, we can see that they are low-income families. But I don’t see them as homeless. And as I read the article, this is what I am thinking. They are not homeless – the government provides a shelter for them. A horrible place to stay in and live, to be sure, but there is a place for them to go to at night. They are not out on the street; they don’t have to sleep out on the street.
But as the article shows, being ‘homeless’ just doesn’t mean that you are living out on the streets and sidewalks, under bridges, ramps, or against a fence. It also means that you don’t have a permanent place of your own, where you can sleep knowing that you are safe under a roof. It also means that you have to put up with a government-run shelter, living in a one-bedroom apartment, and subject to the bureaucracy of a government that cannot provide a building with good living conditions.
How the government can allow families to live in conditions such as those shelters that Dasani and her family were staying in is another discussion for another time. I only hope that with the attention that Dasani and this piece is getting right now will continue on to the upper levels of the government, and that they will actually do something about improving the system.
At the end of the series, Dasani and her family have moved to another government shelter, on the west side of Manhattan. This one looks to be considerably better than the one they left; it’s an actual apartment, with a kitchen. I hope to see Dasani one day, and see how she is doing. With the exposure brought on by this article, I do hope and pray that she breaks the cycle of life that she has been born into.
I will be looking into how we can help with helping the children of the shelters. That’s a whole new world that I am now aware of. And when I see children running about on the streets, I will be thinking of this article and Dasani.
I hope you do too.