Carol Klocek, CEO of the Center for Transforming Lives, recently had an opportunity to help plan the Region 6 Forum on Family Homelessness in Dallas and speak on a panel about family homelessness. Hosted by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the forum was designed to address the growing reality in our community and in our country.
On the panel with Carol was Annie, a courageous young mother who told her story of waiting to get into a homeless shelter more than two years ago after her infant son was discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit. They were first told that they did not “look homeless” and were turned away. After living in a tent behind a hotel for a time, Annie returned and was put on a waiting list. Every Friday she called to see if a spot had opened for her and her newborn. After three long, frightening months of living in a tent, being helped by other homeless strangers, they were admitted to a shelter. And their lives began to change.
With braces, nervous giggles and tears, this young woman told her story. She is proud of how far she has come and knows their future holds more struggle and difficulty, but she describes herself as determined. She told the guests at the forum, “Don’t give up on us…don’t give up on me.” And we have not. Her infant is currently enrolled in Early Head Start through the Center for Transforming Lives, which has allowed her the flexibility to get a job. Through the shelter services she received with a partner agency, she was able to gain entry to their Rapid Rehousing program, which will provide rental assistance for up to one year while works to get on her feet.
While Annie’s story has a good ending, we must continue to work to advocate for children and families like hers. Life as a single mother with a newborn is tough enough; living in a tent for three months to survive should not be part of the equation.
*Please note that the names in this story have been changed
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. For more information please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD