Darlene and Jacob. Teddy. Craig and Margie. All are the new faces of poverty. Six months ago each had jobs, homes and middle class incomes to support themselves and their families. Now two families are homeless and the other teeters on the brink. Their falls have been fast and hard. Darlene has a college degree and worked in the mortgage industry until October. Her husband Jacob was a tree trimmer. They made over $65,000 a year and at one time lived in a five bedroom home. Now they bounce from shelter to shelter with three children. They have each other and hope. That’s about it.
Teddy lost his job as a machine operator before Thanksgiving. This single dad is living in his father’s house now and was unable to afford his medical expenses when he recently broke two ribs. All he wants is work. Craig used to look at homeless people and say “get a job.” Then he lost his supervisor position at a shopping mall before Christmas. He had just returned from a training course in California. He got stiffed by his employer for the expense money. Now he sleeps under the railroad tracks and his fiancee, Margie, is in a shelter. They sell the Homeless Voice newspaper on the 16th Street Mall to survive. People walk by them as though they are invisible. Craig’s feet are covered with blisters from walking everywhere. Margie worries about Craig’s safety everytime she says goodnight to him. Now when he sees worse off homeless people he sometimes takes them leftover food or a smoke. He doesn’t view them the same way.
They say many of us are one paycheck or one crisis away from homelessness. As more and more people lose their jobs, their insurance and their homes, the face of homelessness is changing. The folks at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (www.coloradocoalition.org) say its a state of emergency. The safety net is full of holes. For Darlene, Jacob, Teddy, Craig and Margie it just sucks.
For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com