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Sun Jul 12, 2015, 07:13 AM

Here’s how homeless kids and families are trying to survive in one of America’s richest cities

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/heres-how-homeless-kids-and-families-are-trying-to-survive-in-one-of-americas-richest-cities/



Here’s how homeless kids and families are trying to survive in one of America’s richest cities
Tana Ganeva, AlterNet
11 Jul 2015 at 10:32 ET

Kewanee Colbert has a full-time job prepping food for one of those fancy gourmet meal delivery services that are booming in New York and other cities. Still, he lives in a Bronx shelter for homeless families with his fiancée and three kids, ages 2, 4, and 7. While he’s grateful that his family has a roof over their heads, he sums up the experience as, “It gets to you.”

The family is not allowed to have any visitors; not even the kids’ grandmother, he says. The adults have a 9 p.m. curfew. They have to sign in and out whenever they leave the shelter, and must log in at least once a day, or they get kicked out and have to apply all over again. They’re not allowed to leave town without a very good reason — a funeral, say — and they need a special pass for that. An incomplete inventory of items banned from their unit: air-conditioner, microwave, cable TV, a large TV or more than one TV (if the family is in possession of an inappropriate size or number of TVs they have to put them in storage). In fact, most shelters only allow two pieces of luggage each. There are weekly inspections of their room, including the contents of their mini-fridge.

Still, it’s much better than the Staten Island shelter they stayed in before that. “It kind of looked like a storage room,” he says. One room for all five of them, including his four-year-old daughter, who is autistic and cried through the night, keeping the other kids up. No space for his son to do his homework. No running water in their room, no kitchen. A shared bathroom with the others at the facility. When the family stayed there, his daughter went through autistic regression. “She can’t tell us when she has to go to the restroom,” he says. “She would hold it for a long time and she just started going on herself.”

But even that was better than applying at PATH, the city’s homeless families intake center, where adults with kids go to be placed in shelter. “It was really a horrific experience,” he says. The family was denied placement when they applied last winter, so they were bussed back at 5 a.m. each and every day with their kids and all of their belongings from wherever they were temporarily being put up (the city must place people somewhere for the night when the temperature is below freezing).

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