There’s a story behind every homeless person which explains his or her situation. According to michigan.gov, families with children were near 43 percent of Michigan’s homeless population in 2016. Families’ reasons for being without a home usually stem from lack of funds needed to run a household.
Senior Malik Williams recalls a difficult time in middle school when his family was homeless, and they had to live in an abandoned house.
“It was around sixth and seventh grade," Williams said.In the winter, I really didn’t have a choice but to live with my mom. We slept in there [vacant house] with no heat and no water. We had thousands and thousands of blankets just to stay warm. Anytime I woke up, I always wanted to stay under the covers because it was freezing,” said Williams.
Students see each other at school but have no idea that their peers could be homeless. Many deal with unimaginable circumstances, like what are they going to eat and where are they going to sleep. Seventeen-year-old Emily [Editor’s note: Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.] experienced teen homelessness at the age of 15 for about a year.
“Being a homeless teenager is difficult,” Emily said. “Having the constant thought of trying to survive every day and dealing with the ‘no’s’ and dirty looks is hard.”
When people are homeless, they may have to live in unsafe conditions.
“We didn’t have locks on the doors so basically we slept in a house with unlocked doors. That put us in danger as well. It was a process day by day, week by week, month by month,” said Williams.
There is an alternative to being out on the streets. Shelters can give warm nights and a meal. Emily says living in a shelter is not all that bad. The shelter has rules. If those rules are broken, the occupier must evacuate. However, living with strangers isn’t ideal.
“Living with people you don’t know can be rough,” said Emily. “You don’t really know who you can trust.”
With the homeless, there are a lot of responsibilities that have to be taken into consideration. Both Williams and Emily had struggles in their lives. Even though the situation wasn’t easy, nothing stops them from trying no matter what gets in their way.
“Just because you’re homeless, don’t give up,” said Williams. “It’s up to you to determine if you’re going to grind to make it to where you want to be.”
For housing assistance, contact the Community School Site Coordinator Kaye Smith-Clay at King’s onsite Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.