The New York Times recently published a series of articles featuring devastating accounts of homelessness. One need not go that far to find heartbreak; there are faces of homelessness that are just as innocent, desperate and nondeserving of their fate, right here in our own backyard, in Allegheny County.
Budget cuts and increased use of shelters have prompted articles and responses in the Post-Gazette. The impact of homelessness is difficult to describe. Take, for example, a teenaged girl with a cognitive delay and a baby who found herself without shelter this winter. The girl’s boyfriend forced her out of the house with the baby and only the clothes she had on — no shoes on her feet. Not only was she homeless, but the baby was as well. Finding an available shelter space took four professionals in the social service field, making hours of phone calls.
There are so many issues involved in just this one, real-life scenario. Three problems stand out, because they are issues that could be resolved with some willingness, thoughtful planning and system reorganization.
These three issues are: a) the difficulty in navigating the system for homeless mothers with infants, b) the lack of coordination among the shelters within the shelter system, and c) the lack of coordination with county programs for individuals with disabilities and those for homelessness. Realizing the potential and addressing these problems could result in a year of positive change for homeless mothers and infants in our area.
Office of Child Development
University of Pittsburgh
North Point Breeze