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Poverty and Families

March 4, 2018



Over the past four days, I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother visit.  Tomorrow I will hang with my parents in Palm Springs.  I’m fortunate that I was born into a family that had stability and was able to provide me with economic opportunities.  Not everyone is as fortunate. (I learned about privilege from a young age, and now I pass it along to my students.  If we are born into privilege I believe we have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate.  That’s a characteristic of successful communities. )


Thinking of the how people end up homeless, a significant reason is their upbringing.  With more and more families categorized as homeless, and with more and more young adults lacking a support system or family structure, it’s evident that the problem with homelessness is deep-rooted from a young age. Data backs this up.


In America, up to 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year.


Family homelessness, once viewed as episodic and situational, has become chronic, with families accounting for 37% of the overall homeless population and 50% of the sheltered population.


A typical homeless family is comprised of a single mother with her two young children.


In Not So Simple I wrote about families that were struggling. The story that I want to share comes from Santa Barbara.  I’ll let the poem speak for itself.  But there was a common theme in most situations I saw.  Kids were having fun.  Poverty never robbed them of their childlike wonder.  But now I’m reciting the poem so I’ll stop. 


Family looks different for each of us.  Family is not solely blood-based, it could be your support system/social network.  Family is something to be treasured.  It’s another thing we can be grateful for.  



Family Fun


There they were

A family of four

Walking State Street

On a quintessential Santa Barbara afternoon


Brothers chasing each other

Playing with the crosswalk buttons

On every corner


They’d run around their mother

Who pushed a cart full of cans

Smiling and laughing

Like they were exploring



Poverty hasn’t robbed them

Of their childlike wonder


Kids find fun for free

All while mom and pops

Find cans to keep their family afloat

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