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Outside Looking In

October 4, 2008

On the outside looking in is no place for a high school junior or anyone else!

This year’s theme is “Outside Looking In.” Cristy was a high school junior when she and her mother became clients of Bridge Communities. Cristy felt that way when she attended high school. She commented, “I felt unwelcome, I didn’t feel normal….I had to lie because I was too embarrassed to talk about where I had been”, which was homeless.”

For Jill, a mother of six, the phone call to Bridge Communities was one of the most difficult calls she had ever made. She is a single mom who supported her children by working in the mortgage industry for the past 18 years. When the mortgage industry drastically declined, she lost her job. She could no longer make the housing payments and they quickly became homeless. “I felt a real sense of failure letting my kids down. Kids should never have to worry about having a roof over their head.” Luckily, Jill did make the call to Bridge and was accepted into the program. Now, with the help of Bridge, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a registered nurse while working to put a roof over her family’s heads.

Did you know that unemployment in DuPage County, though low by national standards, remains at a relatively high level compared to historic trends? Although DuPage County has the second highest median income in the Chicago Area, it has more low income persons than the total population of 87 counties in Illinois, according to the DuPage Federation on Human Services.

We asked Bridge what they found to be significant factors, patterns and/or obstacles for people who become homeless. Once you take alcohol and drug abuse out of the picture, here’s their list of top reasons:

  • High rate of domestic abuse

  • Make bad relationship choices
  • Bad credit, high debt
  • Lack of budgeting skills
  • Depression is a common theme
  • Lower functioning – poor education, undiagnosed learning disabilities
  • Lack of specific professional training or expertise
  • Decision making is framed through a short term, “survival” type of lens
  • Lack of understanding of long term consequences or effects from this kind of decision making. Inability to think/plan long term

It’s important to realize that in a wealthy county like DuPage, there are a number of people struggling with homelessness. Share this story with a friend and ask him or her to join us on November 1st for Sleep Out Saturday. Then go ask two more people to sponsor you. It only takes $25 a night to house a person in the Bridge Communities transitional housing program.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! visit www.sleepoutsaturday.org for more information.

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