As a summer intern at Families Moving Forward, I’ve had a humbling experience. I have learned how this program works while getting to know the excellent staff, and also how each family works hard to move forward from this homeless stage in life.
Many people have a schema that homelessness is something that only people who are lazy get themselves into. Here, most families are homeless due to lack of income, or job loss. I have seen these families work extremely hard with case managers and in the financial literacy classes. With this support, the families learn how to prevent some financial problems that may come up. They learn the benefits of budgeting, saving and knowing where their money goes.
I’m learning how the system to help those who are homeless works, and what Families Moving Forward, specifically, can offer each family. We must turn down some of those who call in need of shelter because we can only accept eight families at a time. It is heartbreaking to hear their stories over the phone and then let them know that we are full, but it is reassuring that there are other shelters that they have not contacted.
This opportunity has stretched me emotionally, especially through the process of helping families find a place to call home. A family struggles to find housing with an income of $1,300 a month with 3 children to provide for. We know that finding a place for $850 or less for rent is realistic, considering utilities and all the other basic needs. With every search I conducted that fit the family’s need, there were at least two dozen searches that were close, but either too pricey in rent, or lacking space to fit the size of the family.
One of the individuals that I have been working with under Mai Choua’s supervision does not have a high school diploma, and has a child to provide for. Many ordinary jobs that pay the bills do require some form of degree or GED. It has been difficult for me to look up job leads to see if there is any possibility that a job might lead to an interview without a high school diploma attached to her application, but I know it is always worth the effort to try. I believe we will put an end to the label of homelessness only by maintaining that hope of a successful outcome.