Last night NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams ran a short news segment about two homeless families. It was a rare instance of a national television network sharing with the nation the plight of homeless families and the issues they face.
One of the families spotlighted in the program received shelter from a church program that required them to move to a different church every week; while the other family faced the threat of being broken up because of the scarcity of shelters that accommodate large families or families with older male children.
A particularly heartbreaking image from the segment that has stuck with me is of the nine-year-old daughter of the first family tightly clutching a pink Popsicle stick bird house that reminded her of the home she used to have.
As a nation, we have a responsibility to prevent children like her from falling into homelessness, or to divert them from becoming homeless, whenever possible. Where prevention or diversion fails, we must reduce the trauma they experience by re-housing homeless families as quickly as possible.
We know that rapid re-housing is a successful and cost-effective intervention for family homelessness. Unfortunately, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan points out in this story, we need more resources to meet the increases in family homelessness.