Ashley and how She Breaks the Stigma of Facing Homelessness
Families facing homelessness are often classified as the “invisible population” to the great lengths they go to in order to keep their integrity and family unit intact. Under the blind eye of society, homeless youth and families are far less visible in our daily interactions than many of the individuals panhandling on the street or sleeping on park benches. These are the individuals that desperately need our help. These families are often bouncing between cheap motels, sleeping in cars, couch surfing with friends and sadly, many feel that they are forced to stay in unsafe or unhealthy environments just to be able to keep their kids in school or maintain a stable job.
Ashley, her husband, and two children (pictured here) are current residents at Homeward Bound. Until they joined shelter program, they stayed with a family member to avoid being without a home until that environment became too unsafe for their children. Before finding Homeward Bound, Ashley and her family spent roughly four months on the waitlist with the Family Housing Hub, the central intake for shelters in Maricopa County serving families experiencing homelessness. There, they were referred to us and were told by their caseworker that it was the best place to be as far as resources for a family are concerned.
Upon move-in, Ashley instantly noticed how clean and safe the campus was. She shared that almost immediately, the entire family found tremendous relief. They were finally able to begin focusing on saving to fix their family car, the cause of their loss of employment in the first place. She is confident through the budgeting and saving opportunities, they will find forever financial freedom. She and her husband also found substantial hope in the resources like the Work force Development Lab and a recent Resource Fair hosted on campus, stating that her husband now had several job interviews lined up nearby. Ashley’s older son also took advantage of the Homeless ID Project to begin looking for jobs as well.
Ashley also shined a bright light on the importance of destigmatizing facing homelessness, sharing the shame and guilt that comes along with peoples’ beliefs surrounding struggling to maintain stable housing, versus what is actually true. She stated, “People think you only lose your home from not working, and that’s not true. My husband was working, so he felt like the resources out there weren’t for us.”
Unfortunately, in Arizona, employment alone does not ensure having a roof over your head. Currently, in Phoenix, one must make over $23 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment. However minimum wage in Arizona is only currently set to $12.80 an hour. The low minimum wage is just one of the many factors contributing to Arizona families facing homelessness. With financial burdens like:
- Childcare expenses exceeding $9,000 a year in Arizona
- The cost of rent increasing by roughly 30% in Phoenix
- Job loss as a result of the pandemic
… It is no wonder that Arizona has seen a 35% increase in the population that is facing homelessness.
Here at Homeward Bound, we do everything we can to help the families that come to us find lasting independence on their unique journey home. Still, we are greatly in need of your help to continue to fight homelessness as it increases at an alarming rate. Help families just like Ashley’s escape crisis once and for all by becoming a Difference Maker with Homeward Bound!