On average, 3.5 million people in the US experience homelessness each year (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). In a dramatic reversal of roles, the number of homeless single fathers with kids is on the rise in the US as mothers are increasingly abandoning their traditional role of a caretaker.
Recession and homelessness
A report made public in 2008, included citations by the US Conference of Mayors that the rate of homelessness has been gradually increasing in 19 out of the 25 cities analyzed for the research. According to the survey, a 12 percent increase has been witnessed in homelessness since 2007.
Pursuit of happiness
The ordeal of a homeless single father was beautifully captured in the 2006 movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith. The film captures the struggle of Chris Gardner (real life character played by Smith onscreen) with his son in San Francisco during one entire year of remaining homeless. In real life, thousands of homeless single dads fight it out on the streets to win bits of security for their children.
Available data shows that the nation’s homeless population increased by around 20, 000 people from 2008 to 2009, thus showing a three percent increase. According to the federal government’s agenda, the goal is to end family homelessness by 2020, while the goal for ending single adult and veteran homelessness is set at 2015.
Reasons for homelessness
- Poverty: A large number of families cannot afford decent housing anymore. Fathers without jobs and mothers abandoning their families in crisis have added to the chronic social disease of homelessness.
- Conundrum of the mind: Most parents suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression when they are unable to support their families in the harsh years following the recession. Mental illnesses of parents restrict them from taking good care of their kids.
- Between booze and grass: Adults can become alcoholic and indulge in substance abuse in order to cope with their failures. Due to this reason, most single parents end up in rehabs and leave their children without a roof over their heads.
- Prisoners of conscience: Single dads are adopting a life of vice and crime so that they can provide for their kid/s. Most of them end in prisons due to non-availability of financial help for single fathers.
Problems faced by homeless single fathers
Non-profit organizations mostly have no space to accommodate homeless single fathers and their children because the phenomenon is still new to the American society.
Homeless single dads accompanied by their children is a common sight because moms are somehow ending up in jails or choose to abandon their families when the going gets tough. Dads therefore step in to fill the void left behind by the mother.
Homeless fathers have to carry around all important documentation and data of their kids in small bags. It is not always possible to protect such data out on the streets.
And the award goes to…
The award collectively goes to Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Washington State, and Washington, D.C. for having the highest rates of homelessness; single fathers making up a large proportion of the final statistics that were released in 2007 by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Hoping for a change
The importance of constant support and basic education has been recognized as a valuable asset for the homeless single dads. Assistance of non-profit organizations such as Helping Hand House and other shelters for homeless fathers can be also sought.