Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Evicted with Children; It's Got to Stop

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Evicted with Children; It's Got to Stop

Article excerpt

One of my sons and his wife bought a modest starter house. Next door to them was a woman with two of her children, 14 and 8, living in a similar house.

She had a job and, fleeing domestic violence, had bought the house with a subprime mortgage at a price above its market value. My son and his wife knew her and the two children. One child was gifted and in a magnet boarding school. The other had learning problems and a nice personality. Absent a father, he liked it when my son came out to throw a football with him.

A few weeks ago, my son told me that the mother and her family had been evicted, the mortgage on the house had been foreclosed, and she had probably lost her job. The family were sleeping some of the time in their car. My son and his wife and other neighbors were helping them -- showers, food -- but their problems were clearly more than they and the other neighbors could cope with.

Purely by coincidence, a few days later, a friend of ours invited my wife and me to attend a luncheon sponsored by a Pittsburgh organization, HEARTH, which stands for "Homelessness Ends with Advocacy, Resources, Training and Housing." It targets homeless women with children, frequently victims of domestic violence, who find themselves in just the dilemma that my son's neighbors had found themselves in, which is about as hopeless a situation as people can fall into. The objective of HEARTH is to deal with these families' problems in the short run, and put them back on their feet in the long run.

It is perfectly clear that circumstances like this, when no way out is found, perpetuate in American society the grinding, multi- generational poverty that has decimated the American dream for millions -- and which is increasingly being noticed and documented as the country wrestles with its economic problems.

I grew up reading Horatio Alger books, literally the stories of poor boys who through hard work and other virtues rose from poverty to success. (I'm not that old; an older neighbor gave me his collection of them, but I took them on board.) But hard work does not always suffice.

HEARTH, in existence since 1995, takes on the problems of people in Pittsburgh who fall out of the economy in the way that my son's neighbors did. …

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