We hear a lot about being born on third base. It is a metaphor for being way ahead in the game of life. But what if you were born in the bleachers? Or worse, being born outside the ballpark?
At least 2.5 million children are homeless in America annually, according to school records. Four out of 10 of them are under the age of six. No matter the exact number people born into homelessness they negate the narrative that homelessness is a “choice”.
Close your eyes
The stats mentioned above feel odd and unexpected, but why? Close your eyes for a moment and try to picture a homeless person. What do they look like?
If you are like the vast majority of people obtaining most of your information from news streams, you’ve likely conjured up a scruffy, middle-aged man who is either mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or both. He is on a highway somewhere with a cardboard sign harassing naïve little old ladies out of the last few quarters they have in their purses.
How many would have pictured a defenseless baby freezing in a tent beside his single parent, who is probably a domestic violence survivor?
In answer to what we are doing about it, you might think nothing. However, the truth is much more sinister.
What we are not doing creates this perpetuating cycle, this swinging doorway that, whether open or closed, always leads to despair.
What we are not doing is painting an accurate picture of homelessness in America.
When thinking about homelessness, our society doesn’t picture infants and toddlers because the media has already ingrained a different image. The one of a middle-aged man. The one of a cardboard sign.
When judging a group of human beings, bear in mind the most visible person is not necessarily the most representative.
This is what happens in the case of homelessness. Babies, toddlers, and children account for a substantial portion of the unhoused population, yet they are much less visible. They are also rarely represented in media as being the average homeless story, although they are.
Now That You Know the Truth Ask Yourself: How Can Homelessness be a Choice if People Are Born into It?
It can’t be, and it isn’t.
Talk to your representatives about the millions of children and babies who are at risk for homelessness.
We can once again thank Cynthia Griffith and the people at Invisible People dedicated to making the invisible visible.
Join the campaign to end homelessness by supporting the only newsroom focused solely on the topic of homelessness. Help them tell the real story of homelessness to inspire tangible actions to end it.