I met a 19-year-old woman today, barely out of high school and not immediately or even apparently college bound.
She did not get along with her family. It’s not clear to me if her family put her out of the home or if she left—I suspect the reasons are somewhere in the middle. She had no job, no job training and nowhere to go. But she knew she didn’t want to end up literally on the streets. She told me she thought about sex trafficking. Not about selling herself to survive, but about the fact that as a vulnerable young woman, someone could possibly see her as an easy mark to push her into that world.
She may not have had a lot of life experiences but she had enough to know that the streets and 19-year-old girls often lead to enforced sex work. Luckily, she connected with a non-profit called Motor City Mitten Mission. Tonight, she has a warm place to sleep. She’ll be safe. She’ll have food. She’ll have space to think through her next steps and she will not be forced to peddle her flesh to survive or sleep beneath an overpass to stay out of the plunging drizzling Michigan rain.
That’s not why I did the story on Motor City Mitten Mission’s new partnership with Macomb County to Shore-Up Shelter Space for homeless families and individuals, but it’s just one of the reasons that I’m glad I did the story.
There are so many reasons people become homeless. It’s not always because of job loss or mental health instability or family issues. Each reason is different.
The question is how do we care for these fellow human beings with dignity sans judgment who’ve fallen on hard times?
There are a lot of moving parts to the problems of homelessness in our cities, towns and nation.
Luckily there are people who make it their business to think of ways to alleviate the suffering of our neighbors and find ways to not just offer a bed, but services that will create a path beyond that bed, to one day have a bed to call their own.
Luckily there are people who support those services with their time, talents and wallets.
When I step away from my job at the end of my shift and hang up my hat as a journalist, I’m always acutely aware that as a person, if the person standing next to me is not doing well, I am not doing as well as I think.