Photographers' Blog

An American homeless family

March 9, 2012

By Lucy Nicholson

On her second day of camping near the coast north of Los Angeles, Benita Guzman lit a match, threw it on a pile of logs, and poured gasoline on top. As flames engulfed her hand and foot, her niece, Angelica Cervantes, rushed to throw sand over her. Benita thrust her burning hand into a pile of mud, and took a deep breath.

Camping’s not easy. It’s a whole lot rougher when you’re a pair of homeless single mothers trying to keep seven children fed, clothed, washed and in school.

Guzman, 40, and two of her children are living outdoors with Cervantes, 36, and five of her children. The two banded together in an effort to keep the children together as a family, and not taken away and separated in foster homes.

“It’s scary, especially at night,” says Guzman. “I’ve always been spoiled. I have a large family and when we went on camping trips, I was the princess.”

At first they slept in a rental van. Then they picked up a couple of tents at a thrift store.

Now, after three weeks of sleeping at a campsite in Santa Paula, the family can no longer afford the rental van to ferry the kids to school in Port Hueneme.

They decide to put their belongings in storage and find a cheap motel room for the night, so the children can walk to school.

“I’m living moment by moment, day by day,” says Guzman.

“I’m holding it all together. There are times I break down. I try not to let the kids see me. They tell me, ‘If you crack, we all crack. If you break Mom, we all break, because you’re the one who holds us together.’ So that’s what keeps me going.”

A tear rolls slowly down her cheek.

The family is part of a disturbing trend. One in 45 children, totaling 1.6 million, is homeless, the highest number in United States’ history, according to a 2011 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

Children who are homeless are more likely to suffer from acute and chronic medical illnesses, finds the study. They go hungry at twice the rate of other children. They have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, withdrawal, and aggression.

California is ranked the fifth highest state in the nation for its percentage of homeless children.

At dawn the two women pack the chattering, laughing children into the minivan, leaving the tents at the campground. They shuttle between schools, and then find a public restroom in a park.

Guzman struggles to douse her thick curly hair with drops of cold water from the tiny sink. Both women slip into stalls to change clothes.

They stop at a café for coffee and a pastry. Guzman’s hair is wet and she shivers as she cradles the hot cup. They’ve been trying to cook healthy meals on the campfire, but it’s a chore to keep their bellies full. “I’ve got to make sure my kids eat,” Cervantes says. “If I don’t eat, I don’t eat.” At one point last year, her weight had dropped from 180 pounds to 152 pounds.

After returning to the campsite to collect their belongings and jam them in the van, they drive to a shelter they hope will take Cervantes with all her children, and not reject the teenage boy. They are told to return the next morning.

After Guzman’s husband left five years ago, and Cervantes’ husband went to jail, both women struggled to hold down graveyard-shift, low-paying jobs while taking care of their children.

Guzman’s son Richard, now 20, was angry after his father left, and fought at school. Guzman missed her annual appointment for housing benefits to attend his probation hearing. She called to reschedule, but twice was sent letters after their appointment dates had passed.

She was evicted at Christmas.

By the time they check in to the motel in the evening, Cervantes can’t stop clutching her aching head. All their clothes are in the storage locker. Guzman carries only a box of snacks – carrots, oranges, chips – and returns to the van for a cooler of sodas.

The children rush excitedly towards the first bed they’ve seen in weeks, and begin bouncing on it while trying to work the television remote control. “Let’s see in the drawers if they have clothes for us,” says Tomas Cervantes, 6, as he starts searching.

Veronica Cervantes, 9, lies on the bed and pulls out a wobbly tooth. “The tooth fairy’s not going to come,” taunts Tomas.

The children become hungrier as the night wears on, as they wait for Guzman to return with dinner. Preciosa Cervantes, 8, climbs from the fridge onto a high shelf where the snacks are stored. Her mother tells her to get down.

She retreats to the bathroom, and takes a long shower. She walks out with toilet paper wrapped stylishly around her chest. Everybody laughs as she strikes a pose. Later her brother complains that she has used all the soap.

By the time Guzman returns with a bucket of fried chicken, a couple of the kids are already sleeping.

Six-year-old Tomas drowsily bites into piece after piece. He burrows under the covers in the only remaining space, at the foot of the bed, and falls asleep with a bag of chips in his hand.

His brother Francisco Gona, 15, tries to do his homework by reading a textbook about Europe in the 1930s, but looks up occasionally as Cervantes watches The Dukes of Hazzard on TV.

“I’ve taught them all – you finish school,” says Guzman. She worries about the nightmares and anxiety attacks the children experience, but is determined to pull them through.

“I think it’s going to help them grow,” she says. “When they get older and they end up in a situation, they’re going to have skills that a lot of kids don’t have. They’re going to learn unity.”

(View a slideshow of images here)

Post script: March 12, 2012
A lot of readers have contacted Reuters, wanting to know how they can help this family.

Sinead Chilton is organizing tutoring for the children through School on Wheels. School on Wheel provides educational assistance to over 1,500 children annually. If you would like to donate directly to the organization you can do so via their website.

Comments
49 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Such a sad story & one that is so commonplace these days.
The single working mother with children left to fend for them all as well as herself. Now it’s time to WAKE UP AMERICA ! This is what is happening to innocent children & their Moms & Dads everywhere in the USA! It’s Time to realize ALL the MONIES SPENT to MAKE INMATES LIVES NICE & CUSHIE & FAIR to THEM HEALTH CARE & DENTAL CARE , COMPUTERS IPODS >>>ENOUGH!!!! WOn’t someone in a place of Power for once stand up & say CUT FUNDS for the INMATE Care. LET’s Help our Homeless Children !

Posted by alabamamom | Report as abusive
 

I Never realized what happens when things get tough , they are tough for us now & have been for a while. We are barely hanging on. I did not have money for surgery for a tumor & had to wait 4 long agonizing years . For 4 years I could not physically place my head on a pillow due to a tumor that grew to be as large as a softball / baseball . I had swelling of the head , face & jaw. If I had been a prison inmate , I would have had medical & dental care right away. they might have even provided hair prosthesis . Well now I am waiting to have enough money to have dental issues taken care of. Hard times can happen to anyone. Do not think you are immune . I never thought I’d be here. I used to be a debutante.

Posted by alabamamom | Report as abusive
 

A few questions: Legal status? Children of same fathers? Job qualifications? Job efforts? Need more to the story to clarify.

Posted by Seeker2be | Report as abusive
 

To Seeker2be -

Where is your compassion for other human beings? “Judge not, lest ye be judged” just might come back to haunt you some day.

Posted by Tochret | Report as abusive
 

Yes Seeker2be, as soon as you answer all those questions we’ll be happy to let you comment.

Posted by Zoeysmom92081 | Report as abusive
 

It doesn’t matter what their legal status is when kids are hungry, it only matters that the parents need to take responsibility for their action. If they are illegal they would be better of if they turned their selves in, at least the kids would be fed. That said, I would think these women would have already done that if they were illegal. This is only proof they treat illegals better than they do citizens of this country. It’s a shame these kids have to go to bed hungry, the mom lost thirty pounds living like this, it can’t be good for their health. If the stupid D’s & R’s would learn to compromise, maybe this country would start moving forward and people like this would be able to get help. But i doubt it.

Posted by tshan1342 | Report as abusive
 

Not to impune the family being profiled here. But when these stories appear and before rushing to judgement, did the reporter bother to find out what is the REAL reason why this family is homeless? Is it just bad luck, or are there real consequences for decisions we all make? Yes the childrean are innocent. But what about the adults who made decisions and choices along the way that has resulted ultimately in this situation? Great story, but let’s get the facts.

Posted by therealissue | Report as abusive
 

whether the children have the same father or not, or what job qualifications the mother has or doesn’t have, these people are in dire need. i can’t imagine a life like this, with or without children. it’s difficult for me to understand how some people who have all their basic necessities met and then some actually question the desire of people in need – question if they chose the life they’re subjected to. we are all human beings – period. i do agree that inmate benefits and living conditions are better than necessary…

Posted by taralovesluke | Report as abusive
 

Seeker2be,

I’m sure you have some good qualities but taking the higher road is not one of them.

Posted by mensafloyd | Report as abusive
 

@seeker2be, in your obvious effort to paint this as ‘their problem’ you missed the title “An American Homeless Family”. American. Get it? Legal status? Discriminatory much?

Posted by bay5410 | Report as abusive
 

Some good news for her. My mother, my two sisters and I were homeless when i began high school. I did finish school, and even as an adult i have also had to deal with homelessness. But now that I am finishing my bachelor’s degree, I’m doing really well; i haven’t been hungry in a long time, i have a nice place of my own, and yeah, I learned many important lessons from being out on the streets, with my family, and later by myself. Most of all, I learned I can take anything, and do anything, I’m resilient. Her kids will always remember that things could be worse, and even then, they can pull through.

Posted by ally468 | Report as abusive
 

No matter what the parents choices were in the past, good or bad, this family needs help now. I’d like to help. Can someone supply contact information?

Posted by Bruno702 | Report as abusive
 

This article is meant to stir the emotions of the reader without providing factual information concerning the people in the article. Yes, it is sad, and unfortunate to see people who are homeless, particularly children. I guess my question is-does the break down of the traditional family-no father, multiple children from multiple fathers, to a mother who maybe unskilled or uneducated play a role in this tragedy? Is drugs or alcohol a factor in any of these people’s lives? I will get ripped from the liberal left wing here, but my feeling is that rampant reproduction by people who have no ability to support themselves or multiple children is more a matter of a lack of responsibility for one actions, more so than a problem that society should be responsible for. I speak as someone who came from a lower middle class, blue collar family-I put myself through school with zero help from my family. Everything I have I have worked hard for. I am no smarter or gifted than anyone in this article. My decisions in life may have been different, which led me on a much different road than many people. Although I have sympathy for underprivileged people, I also put a high value on self responsibility and self initiative. Articles like these are written to promote an agenda, a political agenda. In this case it seems it is to promote the current, “the rich and educated are bad and the poor suffer at their hands.” That being so, all must take this article with a grain of salt.

Posted by aremee | Report as abusive
 

I work as a volunteer with CASA and although it is important that every measure be taken to keep children with a parent, in this instance these children would do better in a foster program where their basic necessities are being met because these mothers are not meeting their childrens’ most basic needs. That should be our only concern as a society because they did not make the bad life choices that put them in this circumstance.

Posted by Shelby510 | Report as abusive
 

does it really matter HOW a family lands in this situation? doesn’t everyone make mistakes in life?

Posted by taralovesluke | Report as abusive
 

if you read the story she lost her qualifications for housing due to her son being in trouble..tho she wanted to b there for him she should’ve thought about missing the meeting that was the most important for her n her family….i could never imagine being homeless n hope that i dont have to…

Posted by berry2sweet2000 | Report as abusive
 

I am a disabled Post Viet Nam Era Veteran who is beating the odd’s.
I do not think that a large part of the population actually know’s what it is like to be without a place to hang their hat at the end of the day. A place to call their home. This story is a story of and about a homeless family. And how hard it is for some people and their children when they run into hard time’s. Hard time’s brought on through a series of event’s. As this happen’s all to often today in our society. Sometime’s it is due to mental illness. The homeless shelter’s across the country are all pretty much at capacity. We are living in a more and more unforgiving society. Almost a perfectionist society. Where only the strongest and cleverest survive at the cost of those around them. This is a time when people are destroying other seemingly for their own betterment or personal enjoyment. As I have been a homeless man for a period of several year’s, until recently. Learning how to survive as best as possible sleeping in my car during the not too cold time of the year. Learning where one can safely park at night to sleep. Learning how to keep one’s wit’s and head under stressful and sometime’s dangerous condition’s and in dangerous situation’s and place’s. The homeless shelter’s and the related place’s where you can seek and find shelter. One thing I did find amazing is the diversity of people from many different walk’s of life. People who for a many different reason’s have no home to call their own. No place to sleep at night, no place to cook their own meal’s, no place of their own to feel safe at. There are the mentally ill. Those who are suffering from different form’s and type’s of mental illness’s. Those that are suffering from alcohol and substance addiction’s. Those that simply do not want to work and provide for themselves. Their are those family’s who have lost their employment/ residence/ people who can help them. Their are those who go in and out of the judicial system like a revolving door, and use the homeless shelter as their resting and hiding place. As for me, I went through a series of set back’s. A divorce and related was my initial cause for my becoming homeless. I left another state to move back to a state I had been living in and could not afford the high cost of rent in. So I ended up living a rather dangerous and all too dangerous life for several year’s until a few people in some key position’s were able to help me to get the needed Veteran’s assistance I so badly needed. Yes, it can be a terribly harsh and dangerous life. But to continue trying and to continue taking care of yourself and not loose sight of your goal’s. These thing’s are very important! For some do not have any source of income to help them in time’s like these. For them it is a very difficult time. Depending on what part of the country you live in, what city and town. I was lucky that I was able to survive! Able to have a place to shower and use as my mailing address. To have some people who worked at my homeless shelter who cared for me. To have some good social worker’s!! To be strong and to have a good head on my shoulder’s during some very stressful and harassing time’s and moment’s. How I was able to survive those moment’s and time’s? Staying focused on and being careful. There is major story to be done on this nation wide situation. A situation that we as a nation are finding way’s to overcome and provide gainful employment and resources for those in need and looking to better themselves and take care of their family and need’s.

Posted by heisabud61 | Report as abusive
 

tshan1342 -I’m sure it’d be nice (if they were even illegal) to be able to go back home, but conditions are probably NOT better there and if America thinks this is homeless when it’s bad, they’re sugar coating. She said she was spoiled growing up (like most of us.) i can only imagine how hard it is and keeping the kids in school when others say ah dnt worry kids lets skip school to get a manicure or shopping day with mom! Good thing the kids weren’t so spoiled or this would be a lot harder 4 them. The pt. is they’re worried about the KIDS having to be split up; they’re not worried about themselves (like the majority of the self-centered people living here in CA.) Donate to help families like these so they can get back on their feet or use your voice to let the govnt knw we want to decrease the $ spent on imates. about $10 out of our pockets go to them every week!

Posted by godios | Report as abusive
 

I live in a prosperous county south of Atlanta, and we have homeless people living in the woods behind a shopping center. They are people born in the USA, right here in this county, who used to be construction workers, trades people, etc but lost their jobs, then their homes. We have 200 homeless children in this county, some of whom sleep in cars at night. Don’t think for one minute this only happens to non-white people who are not US citizens. Open your eyes and look around you. Find your local food pantry and give generously. One day it might be you standing in line.

Posted by dlking58 | Report as abusive
 

REALLY? Seeker2be – in your time on earth that is the extent of humanity you’ve managed to learn???

“A few questions: Legal status? Children of same fathers? Job qualifications? Job efforts? Need more to the story to clarify.”

It is PRECISELY that MIDDLE MANAGEMENT calibre of thought that creates such sad situations. Easy to profile what you can expect for the rest of your miserabloe existance.

How can i get in touch with this family?

Here is a teaching moment – Tyler Perry lived a life nigh or worse than this. In the time since he’s come up, he’s bought people houses and done all other sorts of good deeds and “seeker2be” NO HE ISN’T SOCIALIST!!

More recently he flew Whitney back to her home ON HIS DIME ON HIS PLANE [research the cost of ownership of a GIV then come back to us with your middle of the road thoughts and ideas - seeker2be] YOU MAKE ME SICK!!!!!!

Posted by MJNB | Report as abusive
 

Could seeker2be’s contribution be removed? It really lowers the seriousness of this family’s plight.

One could go as far as classifying it as abusive if reason is required.

Ms.Nicholson. You stated; “I was born in London” I grew up in London. “… and was previously based in Northern Ireland, Chile, and Mexico City.” I have been based in Germany, Africa, France and the longest relationship was with a girl from Ireland (the Country not Northern)

Hoping that catches your attention, please remove seeker2be’s post. You have been around the world. You know real suffering. You have empathy. Please remove it.

Posted by MJNB | Report as abusive
 

The article does not state how someone can help this family. If anyone reads this and knows, post a comment. I have three small children and this breaks my heart.

Posted by Mom23 | Report as abusive
 

While I have great sympathy for those who struggle, those tattoes cost hundreds of dollars. And instead of pop in the cooler, why not milk? Ice costs a buck a block and lasts 3 or 4 days. I bought a rice cooker at a thrift shop for 4 bucks. A bag of rice is under 2 or 3 bucks. Add some carrots, celery, a chicken breast, a few soy sauce packets or other seasoning and you got yourself a nutritious meal for the same money they spent on a bucket of greasy chicken! You just have the wash the rice cooker. These women are well versed in having kids and wasting money on things that are not necessary. I do feel for the kids. But they suffer because their mothers cannot find their way to Planned Parenthood and waste money on things they don’t need like tattoes, and those dollars could be going toward bettering their lot in life. I am left leaning, but I fought my way up by not wasting money on things I did not need. Perhaps we should teach choice making 101 in junior high schools.

Posted by kateslate | Report as abusive
 

From experience I can say that the chronic severe stress these mothers are facing now can turn into some serious debilitating health problems down the road.

I faced extreme stress during my child rearing years. By my late Thirties I was physically broken. The uphill battles I fought then has been replaced with a daily fight to survive with neurological and central nervous system damage.

Posted by aaniishna | Report as abusive
 

Do American women, children, and anybody for that matter, (in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood….”) parenthetical words from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25, have the right to food and shelter; and/or Is America a civilized society!  You tell me, here I’ll give u the definition of civilized to refresh your memory:
Civilized:  adj.
1. Having a highly developed society and culture.
2. Showing evidence of moral and intellectual advancement; HUMANE, ethical, and reasonable: terrorist acts that shocked the civilized world. [MY EMPHASIS ADDED].
3. Marked by refinement in taste and manners; cultured; polished.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Ok so what does HUMANE mean? Well here ya go.
hu·mane adj.
1. Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion: a humane judge.
2. Marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns: a humane education.
[Middle English humain, human; see human.]
hu·mane ly adv.
hu·mane ness n.
Synonyms: humane, compassionate, humanitarian, merciful
These adjectives mean marked or motivated by concern with the alleviation of suffering: a humane physician; compassionate toward impoverished people; released the prisoner for humanitarian reasons; is merciful to the repentant.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Goodness, is it getting warm in here or is it just me? Oh I know what it is…I’ve been in almost the exact same position these poor women are in (less the children, and less the friend). Thank God less the children.  In a great and wealthy civilized nation, children would not go to bed hungry, oh yeah, sorry forgot a lot of the time they don’t have a bed.  
In response to “Seekertobe” I’m so glad you added the “tobe” on the end of your sn, cuz it sure doesnt seem like u sought yet.  Those quips such as, “different fathers?,” etc.  What does that have to do with the price of eggs?  Huh?!?  The reporter DID tell u the families are AMERICANS she tells u in the title, “An American homeless family.” Hello! By Lucy Nicholson, March 9, 2012, and she tells us again when she states that 1 in 45 children, totaling 1.6 million, are homeless, the highest number in the U.S.’s history, according to a 2011 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. Also, thank you “mensafloyd” your name seems quite appropriate!  Ok so we got that cleared up now.  Whew!
Now, people are so misinformed/ignorant (I dont mean that ugly I mean you just haven’t been informed yet) about shelters, after the tornado here, where I live in the US, there were no vacancies in the shelters, here nor the city 60 miles away.  I could relate to what they must have felt when the shelter turned them away and told them to come back tomorrow.  I can imagine their hearts sank.  What a waste of gasoline. So sad.  Women and children are particlarly vulnerable to becoming homeless, along with the disabled, due to low income and severe low income housing availability. According to the article, Ms.Guzman’s husband had left her and Ms. Cervantes’ husband was in jail. They tried to work but IF YOU DONT HAVE ENOUGH INCOME TO PAY THE RENT yeah that equals homeless if theres no low income housing or u r not fortunate enough to have family or someone to help u out. The demise of the American family (including extended) is a whole different story, just sayin’ what we’re doing now obviously isnt working.
Oh yeah and one missed appt./paper/application/review/etc. ad nauseam can destroy you.  People in the real world don’t get this one. I know I know I didnt get it either. You would think u just reschedule. No! Absolutely not! You just missed your chance and THEN u r on a downward spiral.  Down, do w n,…. d o w n n n n…..
Once a person is in the shoes, er wragged flip flops, of these women it’s virtually impossible to climb out of the pit. No credit. No money. Having probably been evicted u have No hope.  So, u pray hard for that free shelter, when u dont get that u pray hard for an available cheap motel. U will likely spend almost every dime on it.  With children u HAVE to leave enough for food at least I didnt have to feed a child. I cant imagine looking down @ my small child who was hungry. I’d probably do whatever it took to feed my hungry child.  If u lose the motel and have a car (or if you are young and healthy enough adult) u sleep in your car u save so much money not paying for a motel but imagine those 2 families crammed in 1 van. 
So, to the apparently uh misinformed, missy or mister “therealissue” poster to the story:  THESE ARE THE REAL ISSUES! If you truly cannot glean them from the story, then God bless you, I have now explained some of the issues to you; however, u started out your post “Not to impune the family being profiled here.” So I guess that leads me to believe u knew it would be as though u were challenging these poor people further. Like they really need THAT.  ummm
I need to shout for a second: WHAT’S HUMANE ABOUT 7 AMERICAN CHILDREN and 2 WOMEN WHO HAVE PAID TAXES LIVING IN A VAN WITHOUT FOOD?! WHERES THE EMPHASIS ON HUMANISTIC CONCERN.  Please somebody tell me.  Are you motivated by concern, are you FOR the alleviation of suffering, especially for your own great nation’s innocent? Are you, if you are you just might be civilized!

Posted by kattt | Report as abusive
 

fyi no they are not illegal u racist idiot and even if they were would that make it okay for them to be homeless we are all humans god made us all equaly and nobody chooses to be in the situation that the millions of familys in america they are a verry good family and yes all of cervates children are from the same father wich is in jail she has no were to turn having five kids the father of her children being in jail she has tryed everything in her reach but the rent being so high in socal she haz no help from welfare child supporrt is never reliable and yes shes out job searching as much as dhe can but having 5 kids no day care no transportation the only thing keeping her going is family support if u can help this family or families like this it would be more then appreceiated I have her conttact info

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Once upon a time I found myself homeless in San Francisco. What a weird feeling that was, standing on a street alone not sure what to do. However, I had my health and a mind. I bought a tent, pitched it amongst cliff side evergreens, got a job as a waiter and paid off my credit card over the weeks. I joined a gym for three months at $99 so I could shower and exercise. I actually had a great time. I would love to do it again. So, here you have 9 minds that can come up with a money making idea but instead, all I can tell by reading this article is that they are reveling in self pity and shame.

Posted by mosaicvic | Report as abusive
 

Photo: Curb Appeal
http://www.efn.org/~hkrieger/w3333b.jpg

from the series, “Along West 11th Ave.”

Posted by hkrieger | Report as abusive
 

To the so many here that have brought up illegal immigrants,

NOW HEAR THIS & SWALLOW IT DEEP.

THE ONLY PEOPLE HERE LEGALLY ARE THE NATIVE AMERICANS.(that’s with a period)

To all others that can not spare COMPASSION, especially for children, YOU GOTTA HAVE GREEN INK FLOWING IN YOUR VEINS INSTEAD OF BLOOD. YOU ARE NOT HUMAN
(that’s with another period)

STUPID IDIOTS, MONSTERS.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

It’s so easy to judge; too easy. As a husband, married once to the same woman and still married, and father of adult children, 26, 27, and 33, here is what I see.

Two women without husbands, 7 children without fathers. One man abandoned his family ad the other in jail for who knows what. These two women are frightened with no one to look out for them. Do you have any idea?

I grew up in the projects, escaped, and had a successful career. Twenty years into our marriage, I became very ill and we lost everything. I was in bed for almost two years. I was near death and all I wanted to do was stay alive for her and my kids. We are not minorities or illegal immigrants.

My wife and kids were afraid. Very afraid. It was unbearable watching my wife trying to figure everything out. It was a tremendous burden that nearly broke her and took a permanent toll.

Our families are made up of all good, hardworking people. Her family is upper middle class. Her father was a distinguished military officer. Both of our fathers were gone already and her mom was as helpful as humanly possible. Everyone else, our brothers and sisters, even my mother, judged me, judged us, and treated us with disdain.

I cannot imagine what it would have been like if my wife had to go it alone. I wasn’t much help, but I was alive and in her corner. We were together.

These two frightened women are going it alone. Frightened, clearly uneducated, but doing their best to keep families, their children together.

It wouldn’t take much to get them a warm, safe place to live and a little education on nutrition. Trillions of dollars, my money, our money spent to keep the wealthy’s wealth intact. Wall street and many others blew it. Why aren’t they out on the street? Why aren’t they camping out and eating greasy fried chicken? And why are we paying for it?

It’s easy to judge from the comfort of a warm couch on a laptop or iPad. Lose your home and laptop and you’ll know what it’s like to be alone, fending for yourself, and being judged by people no better than you.

They deserve compassion and a helping hand. If we can do that for AIG & General Motors, we can certainly do it for a couple of homeless Latino women and their seven children.

Posted by GSH10 | Report as abusive
 

[Corrected, added INDIANS]

To the so many here that have brought up illegal immigrants,

NOW HEAR THIS & SWALLOW IT DEEP.

THE ONLY PEOPLE HERE LEGALLY ARE THE NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS.(that’s with a period)

To all others that can not spare COMPASSION, especially for children, YOU GOTTA HAVE GREEN INK FLOWING IN YOUR VEINS INSTEAD OF BLOOD. YOU ARE NOT HUMAN. (that’s with another period)

STUPID IDIOTS, MONSTERS.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

I got married to my gf the week I turned 18 in high school (she was a year older and out of school). I wanted to live together and have kids right away, but I kne better. We lived w/ our parents and didnt’ tell anyone. I said no kids until we both had degrees, qualified for disability/employment insurance,and are into a reliable pension plan. It took 20 more years to finish the masters and have career security, have institutional/company pensions secured, strong life policy, reasonable sized house in a reasonably well neighborhood. Times ticking, wife turning 39 and finally ready to have kids. I go to jail, debilitated w/ cancer or a car accident, our kids will be okay. Even if both parents die, there’s a fat policy w/ specific Last Will instructions for my relatives to hire drivers/nannies to continue tutoring centers, family fieldtrips (evey by babysitters), college planning and tuition. I wanted children since I was a teen, but we had to wait and work for 20 years to do it right. My wife and I really don’t like studying, working so hard,putting money into stocks instead of vacationing/partying/recreational-toys, we don’t like waiting so long – but that’s the difference between loose living and trying to be responsible. You don’t have children until you have a backup plan and assets in place to cover the risks of life’s mishaps. Plus, even while we have a large extended family, they’re anti-social deadbeats and won’t spend any time or money on our kids, hence the need for estate assets and instuctions to retain longterm caregivers.

Posted by psychoknight | Report as abusive
 

There are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of families today living under such and much worse conditions world-wide, all for one and the same reason, GLOBAL WALL STREET BANKSTERS, AND THEIR LIKES. The Devil has conquered the Earth.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

What to do now. Keeping the kids w/ mom is selfish on the two mother’s part. They are not in a condition to mother, so let cps place the children in foster care, for now. Mothers need to 1. Get any kind of job 2. Use the meager wages to get educated, 2yr certification in anything. 3. Move into a better job 4. Get kids back & have a babysiter dropoff/pickup from school. Its a two year plan, but what else are you gonna do? Remain a charity case until all the kids are adults?

Posted by psychoknight | Report as abusive
 

Most wild animals have instinctive compassion for all the members of their own species, and orphaned or neglected youngsters will immediately be adopted and cared for by others, with care and affection as good as that of their biological parents.

WE SHOULD TAKE ANOTHER GOOD LOOK AND SEE WHO WE REALLY ARE.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

The children need to be cared for by the Government,(You and i).Those two great mothers need to know they will have reasonable access to their children while they get this situation sorted out.I know they can reverse this catastrophe and i believe most older people with a few dilemas under their belt will agree with me.The big issue is can they believe and rely on the rest of us to help them up.I suggest the answer is no, we are no longer the government of the people otherwise this story wouldnt be a story because it wouldnt exist.

Posted by Kiwi57 | Report as abusive
 

Hell is empty; all the devils are here.

Posted by Laurelanne73 | Report as abusive
 

How can we help?

I agree that this is a heart wrenching story and I feel helpless, and hoping that someone in power will do something about this.

But we don’t have to wait for someone. We can band together and help this family and all the 1.6 million children out there.

If the reporters can do an article about how we can find homeless children in our local community and connect us with people or organizations that are successfully working towards this solution but need a little more manpower.

Posted by HIB | Report as abusive
 

How much was that foreign aid budget this year?

Posted by Tiu | Report as abusive
 

@Tiu

‘Foreign Aid Budget’ means ‘Foreign Military Aid Budget’ and not a penny goes to the needy.
In fact most of these Budgets are given as military hardware produced here and the profits go to our 1% elite here. Another smaller part of our Foreign Aid Budget goes to the recipient country’s elite that support our economic interests. Have you got that clear, boy?
Now go read some real books or do something to clear your head with.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive
 

Lucy Nicholson: Can you please tell us how we could contact and help this family? Thank you!

Posted by mdcioara | Report as abusive
 

hey uuu hoo kate, look on the table, you will see a couple of cartons, soda doesnt come in cartons. someone probably gave her the chicken. she gets probably whatever a pantry or what/whomever gives her. their thriftstore might not have a rice cooker today? our ice is not a buck here and it SURE doesnt last 3 days. and the ice is all MOOT ANYWAY as long as they r n the motel its probably free-NOT that that has anything to do with anything! obviously the tatoo (which I dont love, but soooo what?) was paid for when somebody had the money to pay for it. should she use the little money she has now to have it removed? of course not! i get so tired of such judgemental attitudes. any of you could come down with an incurable disease that had nothing to do with “poor choices.” then u will understand the system makes it impossible for one to have their basic human needs on your own. God help u if u dont have any family! now how r these women responsible for the actions of their “husbands?” was it their responsibility to make them do right? how is that possible? WHY is it a higher priority for the incarcerated husband to have t.v. computers, electricity, a/c, heat, food, shelter, dental care, medicine, therapy, gyms, bathroom facilities, etc etc etc???

Posted by kattt | Report as abusive
 

what’s the problem finding a place for this family to live ? I have an empty trailer on my farm that they could stay in rent-free.Schoolbus stops half a block away.Please give contact info

Posted by veraluz | Report as abusive
 

I can’t believe the lack of compassion some people have for those who are in trouble. We’ve all needed help at times in our lives. Anyone who has never been homeless should count themselves very fortunate. It has to be a very difficult situation, and I can only imagine how hard it must be for these women and children. Regardless of how they came to be homeless, these people need help. Otherwise, they may never be able to improve their situation and find a home. These women do not strike me as lazy individuals. I bet they would welcome having jobs and becoming better educated if that meant being able to provide better lives for their children. They seem to very concerned about the importance of education and are already working hard in order to survive being homeless. I think they just need a little help from the government or charitable individuals to help them get started on the right path. Just because they need help now does not mean they expect to be helped the rest of their lives.

Posted by IvySteph | Report as abusive
 

This type of thing is happening more and more. There is a place in Atlanta, Georgia called Little Five Points and anytime you go there you will see homeless people. I have been seeing a lot more of them lately. Yes, some of them just don’t want to work. But you can tell many of them are ashamed of being without a home and having to ask for help. It’s so obvious they would much rather have a job and be able to provide for themselves. I saw an older lady once with no shoes and no money to buy water. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw countless people pass her by! Some even had the nerve to laugh at her! I just started crying and gave her the pair of tennis shoes I had just purchased. Then I proceeded to take her to the nearest store and buy her a couple of jugs of water. It only cost me about $20 and it was the best $20 I ever spent. If people would just be willing to give a little every now and then to help others, there wouldn’t be so many people living on the streets. I seriously don’t know how some people live with themselves!

Posted by IvySteph | Report as abusive
 

The overriding difficulty for homeless people is the lack of affordable, low-income housing or permanent shelters that address physical and mental disabilities. Even highly educated, non-addicted or mentally deranged individuals are finding themselves homeless, without employment of any kind, and no place to live. NIMBY attitudes and lack of initiative by most US cities to address this situation only extenuates the problem. Where are the big corporations and billionaires who could easily convert unused buildings, or partner with nonprofits to provide shelter? Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison?

Posted by orionciara | Report as abusive
 

I completely understand the frustration and the feelings of lost hope that these mothers are feeling. My family and I have been in a continuous cycle of homelessness for going on 14 years now. Though we may have a place from time to time it is not a place that we can make our home. Several times we have been completely homeless, camping for several summers at a local lakeside park. At times our homelessness was not caused by lack of job or other resources. Being homeless is not just an issue of having employment and earning money. My husband is schizophrenic and a recovering addict. It had taken him along time to accept this and to ask for help, often he would self-medicate to escape the harsh realizations of life. During our relationship he also spent 4 years total in prison, which left me with the two children and all the responsibility upon myself. After his last release he filed for his disability. Going through this process is the most frustrating of all, even living with someone who has a mental illness. It took us 8 long hard years but he finally received it. For those in the appeal process please do not give up, if you truly need it you will get it. We are currently involved in a program for homeless families but it only lasts for two years, after that you are off the program. During these two years they program helps you to find a place to live, pays all deposits, pays our utilities and rent for all of these two years. In return we are required to do the following: either have full-time employment or full-time schooling or part time employment and part-time schooling. Since we were still in the process of getting my husbands disability it makes him exempt from the program requirements. Having been in a homeless situation for over a decade is not as easy as to have a roof provided for you. It’s not like we can just get up the next day and go do what we are expected. We have lived with the basics for so long with all of our other belongings in storage that we don’t know how to be what society deems as a “normal” living situation. Our children have issues with organization, stabilization, cleanliness and personal space. A lot of the places before this place were living with multiple people/family member, one-room motels, our vehicles, sleeping on couches, basements and homeless shelters. It’s hard to teach children these skills of they have never had their own rooms or closets, living out of garbage bags. My husband brings home the minimum he can on disability and half of that is taken for past due child support from his previous marriage. Social security takes into consideration the income of the entire house. If I make to much at at job then they reduce his monthly benefit. We cannot qualify for low housing because he is an ex felon and we cannot afford to pay full rent at anyplace because rent is high even in the middle of Nebraska. I often hear people say you have to budget, well please tell me how I budget a little over $300 a month and still pay for the extra bills such as vehicle insurance, one phone, storage etc. I swear that if it would not be for food stamps that we would not eat, and for this project we are on we would be homeless. When we are done with our two years and we haven’t transitioned into some form of stability we will be homeless. Not every family can be forced to fit into the mold of what society wants us to be. If I had room for this family I would open my heart and home to them because its that’s what we are supposed to do, right? Treat others how you want to be treated.

Posted by clmeyers | Report as abusive
 

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Posted by .l.l | Report as abusive
 

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