Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Sunday, July 06, 2003

CBS) In any American city, on any given day, the nation’s economic downturn can be measured by those down on their luck — and that population may come as a surprise reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.

These days, homeless families are the norm on the street, not the exception.

“Homeless looks like a young mother with a baby in her arms and a 2-year-old tagging along beside her,” said Brenita Jackson-Brown, Genisus Shelter Director. “That’s what homeless looks like in this country.”

A recent survey found that out of the 800,000 people who are homeless in the United States, 200,000 are children in homeless families. This is an increase blamed not only on rising unemployment, but a decrease in affordable housing.

New York City is just one example. The lines for soup kitchens are getting longer and longer. In fact there are now more homeless families in Manhattan right now than during the Great Depression.

"Back in the 80's the typical homeless family was a single mom who was on welfare,” said Patrick Markee, Coalition For The Homeless. “Today we're seeing more and more of the working poor being forced to turn to emergency shelter.”

An Atlanta couple, living in an abandoned house is one example. The husband had lost his job while she had just given birth to their son. But every shelter they tried was full — so they ended up in an abandoned house.

"I sold my rings to even get food," said Enestae Kessee, the father.

It didn't work. Their baby died of malnutrition, 25 days after he was born.

"They told me he wasn't breathing still, and I wanted him to wake up,” said Bonita Williams, the mother. “I told him, 'It's your Momma. Wake up for Momma,' but he wouldn't do it."

Patrick Markee of the Coalition For The Homeless told Cowan he isn’t surprised that in this day in age, in a city like Atlanta, children are dying of malnutrition.

“Every city across the country is reporting rising demand for emergency shelter among families with kids, and rising demand for emergency food,” he said.

And with record numbers of homeless families expected to flood shelters this summer, 10,000 in New York alone, it's expected to get worse before it gets better.

A family is seen hugging and crying next to a picture, and for them, it's hard to imagine how much worse it can get.

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