For most of my childhood, I lived in a locked basement. To be specific, my father’s mother’s basement. Ultimately, ending up back there after moving from different houses, shelters, and motels since we were homeless. Our main meals were ramen-flavored chicken noodles and corn dogs every day. My father was abusive toward my mom and was definitely not right in the head.
Despite the challenges, my mom did a great job shielding us and keeping us unaware of the situation. Looking back, I wish I had noticed the signs earlier, such as going to bed early, my mom constantly trying to calm him down, and with her always being in constant pain.
One night, as we were all sleeping together, she couldn’t shield us. It was the middle of the night when he came in. My mom was on the reclining chair near us. Waking up, I sensed something was wrong immediately. He entered the room, and as soon as he did, he choked my mom, lifting her in the air and yelling frantically at her.
For three months, my mom meticulously planned an escape plan with the help of her friend. She saved money, packed our belongings slowly, and made calls to various places while he was out. When the day finally arrived, my mom picked us up from school and declared that we were leaving. From that point on, we lived in motels until we were finally granted entry into a domestic violence shelter, where we could save enough money to get a safe place to stay.
Did you know most of the people who are homeless are not even counted as being homeless?!
Well, according to the Point In Time Count Report, which measures the homeless population, the counts are only of the people in shelters and on the street. That’s why I’m raising awareness and addressing the different aspects of homelessness that often go unnoticed or unspoken. Specifically, Atlanta’s population.
It’s an issue that takes various forms and affects many people. To me, homelessness is a person or family without a permanent, consistent, and sufficient place to call home at night. Therefore, people living in their cars, under bridges, on the streets, in hotels, motels, shelters and people temporarily having to live with family members and friends’ houses are considered to be homeless.
Around 11 million people in the US are living in poverty! In its 2022 annual report, U.S. The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported: “582,462 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2022. COVID-19 and its economic impacts could have led to significant increases in homelessness, however investments, partnerships and government agency outreach resulted in only a .3% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness from 2020 to 2022.” Based on the numbers, homelessness has been a problem, one that is only increasing.
In Atlanta, the 2023 “Point-In-Time” (PIT) count conducted in January by volunteer canvassers estimated that 2,679 of people living in Atlanta were homeless during a single-evening count. According to the PIT Count Report’s Housing Inventory Count conducted in Atlanta in January 203, use of all their beds for their housing services were at 75% utilization, meaning 25% of housing and housing intervention beds were empty and open. Also, the Housing Inventory Count (HIC) is a survey that takes a snapshot of the programs available in the area. This count helps to identify dedicated beds and units to support individuals experiencing homelessness.
The invisible homeless are the people not even counted in the counts above. As a result, people residing at parks, tent cities, campgrounds, abandoned buildings, cars, bus or train stations and similar places are not accounted for. This shows that there are way more homeless people than what the statistics state and that there’s so many more people in need who need help.
In my story, my family and I were part of the invisible homeless. We had lived in countless motels and places where we were told to leave as soon as possible. Some people even tried to tell us that we were not really homeless. That’s why I’m informing people about the high homelessness rate in Atlanta, growing even more because of inflation, rising food prices, housing costs, clothing expenses, increasing gas, and vehicle prices. Everywhere I go, you see countless homeless people. I always see and hear tourists point out the significant number of homeless people we have. I’ve also heard so many stories from people coming from outside of Atlanta not expecting there to be so many homeless people.
Don’t you think it’s time for this to be put to an end?