Dec 11, 201309:44 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Homeless for Christmas
A New York Times article is inspiring people to think about homelessness this holiday season.
There's a New York Times piece that has been getting a lot of attention lately and I encourage you all to read it. Written by Investigative Reporter Andrea Elliott, "Girl in the Shadows: Dasani's Homeless Life" follows an 11-year-old girl named Dasani who lives in a homeless shelter in New York City.
The story is moving and heartbreaking; here is a snippet:
Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.
The story got me thinking about how an article would go if a reporter followed a homeless kid in New Orleans. According to the City of New Orleans' Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which came out in 2011, New Orleans' homeless population “rapidly” increased after Hurricane Katrina. The good thing is the number of homeless people in New Orleans has been declining since then. There were 2,337 homeless people in New Orleans in 2013, a 73 percent decline from 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
I am not an expert on homelessness, but 2,337 homeless people still sounds like a lot to me. It breaks my heart to know some of New Orleans' homeless people are kids who probably live a life similar to Dasani's in New York City.
I think the editors at the New York Times were smart to release this story during the holiday season, whether that was on purpose or not. The story made me think about the things I think are important around Christmas, such as having ribbon to match my wrapping paper or getting to the post office on time, are not important at all; some kids have much, much, much bigger problems.