Grace Ross: Should Lauren Be Homeless?
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
She came over to us during our protest demanding an end to the shutdown of the Federal Government.
We were talking about the injustice of folks on cancer trials being denied their medication and, we hear, literally dying from that. Then there’s the shutting of battered women’s shelters; folks now who are serving their country and killed overseas, their family’s can’t get their death benefits and they can’t get buried.
What had grabbed Lauren’s attention were the words “shelter” and “homeless”. She had very meekly asked me if she could pick up a sign and then stood with me through the rest of the protest - occasionally tapping my hand to get my attention so that she could talk with me a little bit.
Mostly she seemed upbeat. She wanted to talk about school (as she understood it).
But I asked her where she lived. She said that she and her family lived with her aunt and that she was aware (even though I think it certainly was not the intent of her aunt) that her aunt didn’t want her family staying with them.
I remembered many years ago when Governor Weld came to a hearing full of families – many of whom like most welfare recipients had left battering situations with their children and were depending on the state for money while they got back on their feet. He had the insensitive gall to come and say that the state should not have to provide subsistance because people should have family or friends who would take them in. Weld, of course, was a multi-millionaire and had no clue that people don’t just have an extra space for someone to come stay indefinitely with their children. People at the hearing had done the extraordinary action of calling out and interrupting a sitting governor’s testimony – demanding how many people or family members that he thought they knew with that amount of empty space in their home?
Anybody who’s had or tried to have a family come live with them – often for many months in a row (if you even have the space to do it) – know that that is a huge undertaking. It is a huge challenge emotionally for the whole household even separate from the amount of additional financial costs.
I understand Lauren’s aunt’s concerns especially when I found out that they had been staying with her since January because they are excluded from family shelter like the vast majority of Massachusetts families. This is thanks primarily to changes by this gubernatorial administration to family shelter regulations. If I understood properly – this was a household the size of two (mom and son) that had taken in a household size of three (mom and two children) and all the children are small.
Lauren was brave and was willing to share with me (with tears in her eyes) what is a very painful and difficult situation.
Clothed from head to toe in a purple outfit and so thrilled to stand with us at our protest, Lauren is 3 years and some months old.
How she understood the words “shelter” and “homeless”, how she understood the injustice of a family not being able to have a place of their own at the age of 3.5 is stunning.
What sense she makes or will make of the situation where she loves her aunt and yet knows that her aunt doesn’t want them staying with them, I don’t know.
No more than I understand how she understood what it meant to hold a sign and stand with people in protest, but what is absolutely clear to me is that Lauren’s situation is the fault of the state government.
This is a state government where our Lt. Governor was willing to say that the family homeless program was a national example, a success this past spring because having changed the regulations so the Laurens of the world with their younger brother and their single mom now can no longer get shelter, family shelter demand is way down – no kidding!
Somehow the Lt. Governor had the gall to tout that as a success. Now the Laurens of the world will what? Lead to the aunt’s family being evicted for overcrowding a rental apartment? End up truly homeless in the approaching dead of winter?
We can only hope that as a new state government is elected next year that they will think of the Laurens of the world. The Laurens who at the young age of 3.5 understand better what it means to not have shelter, what it means to be homeless – who apparently understand better than our federal government the injustice and unacceptability when the Laurens of the world have no place to call home and the Congressional leaders continue to pay their own salaries to themselves and their own medical benefits so they have a roof over their head. Who shut down a government while continuing to allow the banks to sit on many trillions of our tax dollars in loans while those banks are busy foreclosing and creating more Laurens. Laurens who now depend on the government’s system to get a roof over their head.
Somehow, our government leaders have forgotten that it is the people of our country – the three year-old Laurens of the world who’ve already understood the words “shelter” and “homeless” – who will be the future voters that will make or break the future of our country.
Grace Ross is the author of Main Street Smarts.
- Grace Ross: Call In The Loans—No Government Shutdown
- Grace Ross: Charity Fatigue
- Grace Ross: Democracy Takes Courage
- Grace Ross: Dirty Energy at Massachusetts’s Brayton Point
- Grace Ross: Dreaming of a 21st Century Community
- Grace Ross: Everyone Wants Big Government for Their Cause
- Grace Ross: Government Borrowing Choices Hurt Regular Folks
- Grace Ross: Healthcare: The Latest Excuse To Cut Jobs
- Grace Ross: Honoring Fallen Soldiers by Rededicating Our Lives
- Grace Ross: Hunger Programs–Let’s Not Be Mean Or Stupid
- Grace Ross: Listening To The March On Washington
- Grace Ross: Market Jitters—Real Problems, Real Harm
- Grace Ross: Outsourcing Your Identity + Ability To Vote
- Grace Ross: Policies That Build Economies and Those That Destroy Them
- Grace Ross: Politics of Hate—Blaming Welfare Recipients
- Grace Ross: Some Government Regulations Everyone Agrees On
- Grace Ross: Stalked By A Death That Was Actually Preventable
- Grace Ross: To Slot Or Not To Slot
- Grace Ross: Trayvon Martin + The Road To Smart Gun Policy
- Grace Ross: Walking The Walk For Peace
- Grace Ross: Weird Weather: What Does It Mean For Food?
- Grace Ross: What The Heat Wave Taught Me
- Grace Ross: When Tax Breaks Hurt Job Creation
- Grace Ross: Will You Remember Where You Were On June 26th?
- Grace Ross: Windy’s Story