They can no longer pay the rent, have signed up for food stamps, and are bouncing from home to home, staying with relatives.
“It’s taken a toll on us. We’ve split up twice since this happened. We’re just now starting to talk and get back together. Because we’ve lost our place to live, we have lost our vehicle, we have lost our phones.”
They’ve lost everything but their children.
The above is a clip from an NPR story I heard this morning. It happens to be about a shrimp fisherman’s family on the Gulf Coast who were (and are still) affected by the BP oil spill. But as I listened to it I noticed you could remove the specifics relating to the spill and it could easily apply to any out of work family. The story goes on to say (paraphrased) :
Shelley Foreman, coordinator of children’s services at the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center, says more than one-third of the 80 families they treat report oil-spill related trauma symptoms in their kids, such as anger, irritability or acting out at school. She says the spill has had a spiraling, trickle-down effect that disrupts the functioning of families.
Psychologists all along the Gulf Coast report an increase in anger, anxiety, sleeplessness and depression. Since the oil spill, people have been living in a prolonged state of uncertainty. “It was totally unexpected, and people had no sense of control or no sense of how extensive the damage was going to be — how long-lasting it was,” says Steve Barrilleaux, coordinator of adult services at the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center. And there’s still no closure.
This pretty much describes life for a family whose primary breadwinner is out of work. You live with a constant high level of stress and anxiety that cannot help but take a toll. As more people lose their unemployment benefits – 2 million by Christmas – the already overtaxed and over exteneded public assistance programs and charities will not be able to fill the demand. More families will lose their homes and end up with relatives, at shelters and on the street. More children will go hungry. And the economy will suffer – out of work homeless people do not pay utility bills, do not buy Christmas presents, do not eat out at restaurants, and we do not go on vacation or buy new clothes.
In 1986 it took approximately 5.5 million people to form a human chain long enough to stretch from N.Y. City’s Battery Park to the Queen Mary Pier in Long Beach, California for the Hands Across America fundraiser to fight hunger and homelessness. I think it’s time for a sequel – we already have nearly three times the number we would need in the currently unemployed.