End Homelessness Creating A Sustainable Footprint For Our Children’s Future And Better World

windowgazingAccording to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in the US on any given night more than 610,000 people are homeless. Most 71% are individuals living in cities. But not all. Some live in towns about 16% Others live in rural areas. Many, 36% are families and about half of those family members are children.That adds up to an astounding 130,515 children in families are homeless. On any given night there are also homeless children without families. Six thousand one hundred and ninty seven children who are runaways, abandoned or orphaned. A new study reveals vulnerability of homeless youth to human trafficking.

Study findings from one of the largest human trafficking studies among homeless youth in New York, and the news is numbing. In interviews with almost 200 randomly selected homeless youth over the last year, researchers at Covenant House and Fordham University found that almost half — 48% in total — of those who engaged in commercial sexual activity said they did it because they did not have a place to stay.

Almost one out of every four homeless young people interviewed were at some point in their lives either victims of trafficking or had engaged in survival sex (trading sex acts to meet basic needs like food or shelter). Kids who had a history of childhood sexual abuse, who lacked a caring, supportive adult in their life, and who had no means to earn an income were particularly vulnerable to such exploitation.

Homelessness isn’t an isolated big city problem that only affects certain individuals like many believe. It can affect anybody, any where, any age, anytime. It happened to me. You can be employed and working poor and it can happen to you. One of the hardest things is living a life of uncertainty and shame knowing other people know. The new face of American homelessness. People battle struggles and become trapped in situations they work tirelessly to overcome. Human dignity is broken.

Many homeless people end up living on the streets, in cars and under bridges. Alot are living in the woods unsheltered from the elements or in communties they call tent cities. Some are organized some are not. Many homeless Veterans take lead and teach other homeless people how to survive the elements. It’s very difficult for those who have fallen on hard times and don’t know how to prepare for the dangers out there. They don’t know how to prepare adaquately for storms, winds or even other people who are willing to destroy or steal what little you have.

Many of the children that become homeless are abandoned and runaways. They are highly susceptable to societies influences such as violence and drugs, gangs, trafficking and explotation. Today with the internet at the cusp of globalization, I fear now more than ever many of these same kids will become influenced to join “gangs” that are more sophisticated and highly corrupt just so they can feel a false sense of family and belonging, only to realize it’s a trap when it’s too late. They are searching for the love they are longing to have. Acceptance unconditionally for what becomes their family. A place to feel safe. A place to call home.

Most of us have heard of homelessness all of our lives but most have been unaware of the person, the mother, the father, the child. How can we become so disconnected from the fact that homelessness involves real people with real suffering. One in fourty five children experience homelessness in America and it continues to rise. I have found the courage to set my shame aside and give a face to homelessness by sharing my story in effort to change the negative stereotype placed against the homeless and introduce my Crack Crib Extreme Home(lessness) Makeover project.

The world is awakening and we are entering a new state of human consciousness. We must each do our part working together In effort to aide stopping endless destruction of our beautiful planet to create a sustainable future for our children. Human beings worldwide are becoming weapons of mass destruction globally. If you want your children to grow up in a free, safe, clean and have an unpoluted environment the time is now. In effort to help others and stop homelessness we must teach our chidren our planets resources are precious. We must stop wasting and taking them for granted.

After having been a therapeutic foster parent for ten years. I had a beautiful home that I had worked very hard to update everything from roof to french doors. My special needs child was beginning to pick up bad behaviors. She was parroting, mirroring and mimicking some of the therapeutic childrens displays that were living in our home. I could see her do something and know exactly which child she was emulating. At that point I realized I had to stop and change what I was doing. I decided to go back to driving a tractor trailer for FedEx. Being a single mom I hired a live in nanny after throughly screening her references and background. When I left on the road I made check calls home several times every day.

I soon began getting red flags and was figuring out things through discovery. After a couple of months every time I made my check calls my child began crying nonstop begging me to come home. She began telling me strange things like, mommy I’m hungry or thirsty and the dishes in our dishwasher smell bad. Or, she would tell me Holly can’t cook like you do and that she was hungry. Because my child has issues with her communication ability I had to pull the information from her. She would tell me Holly sleeps all of the time. Being fifteen hundred miles away I felt helpless and worried constantly. I was horrified to discover the nanny had a prescription drug abuse problem when I confronted her. She wasn’t a bad person. She was just unable to take care of herself much less my child so I decided at that point I could’t trust leaving my child like that again no matter what.

I lost the home that I had worked so hard for. With a special needs child I have always had to settle for less than quality care for one reason or another and charged higher fees when I was able to find childcare. It has always continually been just temporary care. Daycares refuse to take kids after the magic age of twelve even if their mind is developmentally much younger. I am certain many other special needs parents can relate.

The downward spiral continued and we ended up living at the Salvation Army Shelter temporarily. I am very thankful and grateful to the Salvation Army for allowing us to stay but It was very difficult in the shelter keeping an ADHD child in the very small space you were allowed. Thank God it was soon tax time. I searched for and located a rental house and was ready to committ after speaking to the realtor over the phone. I drove to the office to secure the house. After I got there the realtor gave me a different price that was one hundred dollars more that I couldn’t afford. I was moved to tears at that point and just began jabbering on and on about how I didn’t want to be homeless, and how I wanted to be able to work and about how I lost my home, and how I couldn’t find care for my child to be able to work. Finally, I had just exhaused every effort.

Then out of no where a gentleman apeared from out of the shadows. He was a blessing that fell straight from the sky. I had never seen him before and didn’t even know he was in the room. I was so caught up in my grief in that moment but I will never forget his words. He said, ” I have a house I want to show you if you like, but, I don’t know if you would even be interested.” And then, his next words are burnt in my brain forever. I told him I didn’t know if I could afford it or not, then he said …”You can.” When I asked how much the rent would be he told it isn’t rent he was selling it to me. Again I said I couldn’t afford it and that’s when he said I’ll work with you any way you want. I had nothing to lose at that point and followed him to the home. Despite what I saw when we arrived I was so desperate to have a home for my child I told him I will take it. That was sight unseen.

I walked over to his pickup truck as he was searching through two huge locker sized wooden boxes each full of huge jailer type rings each completely filled with property keys. Shocked, I realized how many properties this gentleman owned in that moment. As we walked across the yard toward the house it appeared in very bad shape. It needed a roof, the porch is broken, the siding is messed up and it looks as though it hadn’t been painted since the year it was built. The front door literally had chunks cut out in different places where it had been broken into so many times. The screen door was missing and the bottom of the door metal was peeled up as though someone had broken in from that angle as well.

Then he opened the door. It was truly disguisting. Piles of human and animal feces lay everywhere there was an old mattress was on the floor. I don’t understand how any human being could have lived in those conditions. The smell was so bad I had to cover my nose with my shirt and I made
my child wait on the porch. There were crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia just laying around, there were piles of junk and trash was everywhere. Windows were broken, the toilet was broken, pipes underneath the house were broken, the spigots were broken. Everything was broken and filthy.

He told me he would take care of the piles and trash. Where most would have walked away, I found opportunity. Opportunity for a home for my chid. We scribbled an agreement up on a piece of notebook paper. When I came back the next day he had shoveled everything out of the house. I rolled my sleeves up and my journey began. Cleaning scrubbing, shampooing. shampooing.s hampooing. Painting and then scrubbing and cleaning again and again.

Much work later, little by little it’s beginning to come together. Until I could afford a new doors and security things were walking out my backdoor as fast as I brought them in through the front. I believe they now know, I wont back down, I’m not afraid and I’m not leaving. After a year without appliances I was finally able to buy second hand ones. That was really tough but we made it through. I have worked and worked and worked endless and tirelessly worked at work and worked at home. Inside and out. I think I have proven to the community that this can be done. I have information from neighbors that this property had been one of the worst crack houses in this city. They have thanked me for making the changes. I realize now this solves multiple problems in helping clean up a neighborhood, a community. People are grateful they don’t have to live in fear as before. They don’t have to lose value in their own homes. They can live in safty with peace of mind.

My home is now a reformed crack house that’s been rehabilitated. When I was jokingly calling this my “Crack Crib” Extreme Home(lessness) Makeover the other day I had an epiphany. It would be great if I could come up with some way to give other homeless people the same gift. I pondered and thought over wondering how I could help other’s who are homeless have the same thing. A place to be, a home that is their own. The lightbulb lit. I could figure a way to repurpose , recycle, rehab and reuse substandard properties that are already problematic to communities. I created a plan. If I can generate funding and develope sponsorships, volunteers and donations to begin purchasing very low priced properties hopefully creating relationships with realtors just as an investor would, exclusively for the purpose of finding properties for rehab. Fix them up exclusively for the homeless, qualify the homeless with set standards, through this process also provide them with available resources for whatever help necessary.

Banks use a ratio of around thirty three percent income to mortgage ratio. I was thinking finance to the homeless way lower, possibly twenty five percent income to mortgage ratio, with zero percent interest, then take that funding from their payments and put it back into a pooled fund designed to continue purchasing and rehabing projects, maintenance, funding for subsidizing those with zero income based on ability and expenses. This system once set in place could have the ability to fund itself once it actually gets established as a sustainable solution for the homeless everywhere. We can create a sustainable future for our chidren’s future and our world by recycling, repurposing and reusing properties that go to waste by abandonment or tearing them down. We can do the same with our second hand furnishings and surplus. By keeping them out of our landfills by recycling, repurposing and reusing we create a greener world for a sustainable future.

What if I could find a way to aquire or buy below standard houses, and/or abandoned,and/or condemned properties that have been problematic to communities and neighborhoods then do the same thing? What if I could give them a Crack Crib Extreme Home(lessness) Makeover for the homeless? Society views the homeless as bums. With America’s resources no one should ever be homeless. One of the greatest problems in our country is that we waste our resources and outsource our funding to lesser causes. As human beings what can possibly be any more important than a human life? In America we spend billions and billions of dollars building constructions then we abandon them and tear them down. We fill our landfills and our oceans with trash. The poor become invisible and unimportant. If our nation could grasp the fact that the power is in taking care of our forgotton and suffering people here in our own backyards. Everybody matters. People who have never had to face homelessness turn away from it because they don’t want to see the pain in their eyes. They don’t want to see what losing the face of your dignity really looks like. Remember, you can always regain your dignity.

The human population on earth has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 4 million years. It took almost all of human history – until the early 1800s – to reach a global population of 1 billion. Today, we’re at over 6.7 billion and adding an estimated 74 million people to the planet every year. In fact, the United Nations believes that we’ll reach 9 billion by 2050. Such a large population will put a huge strain on already stretched resources, making severe resource, food and water shortages far more likely. It’s terrifying to think about.
We must each do our part working together In effort to aide stopping this endless destruction of our beautiful planet. Human beings worldwide are becoming the weapons of mass destruction globally. If you want your children to grow up in a free, safe, clean and unpoluted environment, we have a lot of work to do so let’s start now and teach our children to recycle, repurpose, reduce and reuse. This will not only teach them responsibility but it also teaches them about waste and the value of gratefulness. Something that also seems to be lacking in society today with so much abundace.

Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to power a TV for three hours, and aluminum cans can be recycled an unlimited number of times. Recycling a ton of glass saves the equivalent to 9 gallons of oil. Increasing steel recycling by 50% would save the energy equivalent to 7 nuclear power plants. These statistics show just how important recycling really is, and how much we need to ramp it up. We produce enough trash to circle the globe many hundreds of times. Imagine how many trees we can save if we recycle, repurpose and reuse constructions and furnishings. These core values are more important for children to grow into successful adults. Our logical footprints measure humanity’s demands on nature and everything we do has consequences. Our land is being depleted.

There are multiple disadvantages, of growing up poor and in very dysfunctional environments. My mission and vision is to bring awareness to the world by addressing the underlying causes of the most significant issues, causing failure, of our community systems to provide proper health, education, protection and care for successful well-being of our broken and damaged children
and their families. We must each do our part. We must work together in effort to aide stopping this endless destruction of our beautiful planet and help our suffering people. Real people, with real struggles living at the mercy of the elements. Some peoples bottom, is alot further down than others.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each others eyes for an instant?” Henry David Thoreau

Written by: Teri Broadstreet

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