Homelessness. What a frightening word. Have you ever thought about how easy it could be to become homeless? Keep reading to find out what the turning point was for some Rainbow Village families when they found themselves in this situation.
• “Before coming to Rainbow Village, I had a very happy family, good job and a rather well-to-do life. After job loss, business shut downs, a long divorce and settlement, then foreclosure . . . I found Rainbow Village;”
• “Our van was stolen and we used our small savings for a down payment. With car payments and job cuts and eventually job loss, we ended up in a bad situation. We were also worried for what this would mean for our kids academically, they were in the gifted program;”
• “Before my family and I came to Rainbow Village, I was living in a townhome and I was very happy. I lost my job which caused me to become behind on most of my bills. I got little small jobs here and there but it just wasn’t enough. I fell so far behind that I got evicted from my townhouse;”
• ”We put most of our savings into a business that later failed, leaving us with those bills to pay and very little to live on.”
• “Before we came to Rainbow Village, I was constantly worried about where we’d live because we’d fallen severely behind. Hardships kept compiling, especially when both our jobs cut our hours. We were barely living from check to check and borrowing money from friends and relatives. “
In this economy, homelessness is becoming even more prevalent. As one formerly homeless Rainbow Village friend put it, “you don’t choose this, it sometimes chooses you.” The newest at-risk individuals for becoming homeless are low-income families who lack access to resources for first and last month’s rent payments and the security deposit. These families are becoming Georgia’s “new homeless.” Children are even more affected. The high school graduation rate for homeless children is less than 25 percent. Did you know that the difference in lifetime earnings with a high school degree versus without is $200,000? Georgia ranks 49 out of 50 states in child homelessness and 1 in 20 children in Georgia do not know where they will get their next meal.
Rainbow Village has been working for 20 years to break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence that so often are root causes of homelessness. If you’re interested in helping families with homeless children, please consider making an investment in Rainbow Village. You can give in memory or honor of a loved one, prepay your 2012 giving and get the tax benefits now, give a gift of appreciated stock or from a traditional or Roth IRA. Or you can simply give by writing check or pay online at www.rainbowvillage.org.
Remember: Homelessness doesn’t define a person, it defines a situation.
Nancy Yancey is CEO of Rainbow Village, a transitional housing community for homeless families with children. Most of the heads of household at Rainbow Village are women who have fled lives full of domestic violence and poverty. For more information, go to www.rainbowvillage.org.