A Church-Based Approach to Ending Family Homelessness

What comforts children during a time of homelessness?

“Stuff you’d never think of: Children talk about homelessness and how they’d like to be supported.”

The authors of the study realized that absent in the research on homelessness was the voice of children. This is what children said about what comforted them during a time of homelessness:

  • Being connected to family. “I think my family is really great. We stick together no matter what.” (Boy, age 10)
  • Being and feeling safe. “Feeling safe is the most important. You’ve gotta know that things are gonna be OK for everyone, or you, like, stress out majorly. And it’s not just about you, man, you got to know that the people who are important to you are OK too; that your mum’s not gonna get bashed or something. You’re not at home unless you have that.”  (Young man age 15)
  • Having space and things of their own. “There’s so much space! The stairs are great, you can surfboard down them. The first time I went down the board I got stuck in a hole and I ran into the window. The best thing is that there’s two toilets. If we’re downstairs then we go to that one. If we’re upstairs then we go to that one. Except if there’s someone in it- then we have to go to the other one- real quick!” (Girl, age 7)
  • Space in supported accommodation. “It sucked because we weren’t given any space and you were always scared of the other kids and parents there.” (Young man age 21)
  • Having a sense of permanence and predictability. “We are moving to find some houses that we can actually live in for until the end of the world.” (Girl, age 8)
  • Having a sense of ownership and control over their environment and their lives. “Mainly you’ve sort of settled down, you’ve got everything in place and you’re like comfortable. Like, here is home because we have all our artwork up, we’ve got our stereo and everything set up and everything is put away.” (Young woman age 15)
  • Feeling connected to their communities and its opportunities. “The best thing about that place was we were good friends with the people who lived behind us. We removed part of the fence so that we could go from one place to the other easily.” (Young woman age 15)

I don’t think these kids are asking for the moon! I don’t think this is impossible for our society to provide! Feeling connected to family and the community while living in a private and safe environment is achievable!

Family Matters, 2008 No.78, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Tim Moore, Morag McArthur and Debbie Noble-Carr, pages 36-43.

Shared during a talk by Anne Kaufman Weaver at the 2012 Bridge of Hope Conference. Her talk was entitled, “Being a Comforter: Extending the Warmth of Friendship.”