Why don’t the homeless reunite with family?

At Coalition for the Homeless, we see a unique mixture of family situations. From a single father doing his best to provide for his children or a young woman fleeing domestic violence to a two-parent family still struggling to make ends meet, our clients are working to regain self-sufficiency and stability in seemingly impossible situations.

Unfortunately for many of our clients and homeless individuals around the nation, becoming homeless is often linked to losing touch with family members who could offer the support and hope people need to get back on their feet. Homelessness can contribute to spousal separation, broken families and unsupported children. Eventually, these separated individuals may have the opportunity to contact their families, but all too often reuniting with family members is not an easy task. From over 20 years of experience working with homeless individuals and families in Central Florida, we know there are myriad reasons the homeless do not contact family members when they are in need.

From his own experience, a formerly homeless man named Clyde offers a description of reasons that family reunifications are difficult for the homeless. The words below are taken directly from Clyde’s subjective but insightful blog post:

  • Many don’t have parents or any other family to ask for help, even if they wanted to. For some,  their parents have passed away, or are in such poor health or financial condition that they  can’t help anyone.
  • An increasing number of young homeless never had real parents. In some homes, children are  treated as just a burden, being fed and housed but little more. Many are physically abused,  though verbal abuse can be just as destructive….Thousands of young people run away from these conditions and end up living on the street.
  • Many homeless people may have several brothers and sisters, grown-up children, or other  relatives, but being family doesn’t mean they will help. They may not be capable of helping  due to their own health or financial situation. Some will only grudgingly help a little and make it  very clear that it’s an unwelcome burden.
  • There are times where the homeless person had been helped by parents but refused to  improve their own situation. Sometimes family members may just have to say no, if only for a  while, to give the person an incentive to try harder.

We realize Clyde’s personal insights do not address all the reasons the homeless may remain distant from their families, but believe they offer an inkling of the pain, confusion and hurt that may surround family situations for our clients. At the Coalition, we strive to provide support for men, women, and families with children, including those who may not have strong familial support. By providing individualized assistance and a plethora of services, we create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for those who call our facilities a temporary home.