The contrast between our Orange County’s Affluence and childhood homelessness is stark.
In every beach community from San Clemente to Seal Beach the homeless are easy to spot. Among Orange County’s total homeless population there are approximately 2000 kids who live a homeless existence in local motels.
These families live in cramped single rooms, some as small as 214 sq ft, and often share one bed. These kids live in rooms that are almost always filthy, with one or both parents, who are usually struggling in some way, with mental illness, addiction, and finances. The children dodge cars in the parking lot when allowed to go out to play.
Compared to most kids “motel children” are far more likely to be exposed to drug use, crime, violence, and human trafficking. (Yes, human trafficking is happening to kids in OC.) Surrounded by affluence these families and their kids often struggle with feelings of shame, which causes them to withdraw and conceal their situations.
Breaking the Cycle
Motel families typically cannot afford housing deposits, and are not lease worthy due to low incomes, or the lack of a stable housing history. The kids are often not enrolled in schools, and if they are they are failing. This situation sets-up a vicious cycle where poor education, leads to lower than standard income that borders on poverty, or is below the poverty level nationally. With OC being one of the highest costs of living and housing in the nation, they find themselves trapped.
Zeroby2020 works with local organizations to identify the most vulnerable families trapped in these situations, and works with them to provide assistance to break that cycle. Many times that can be as simple as helping them to get ahead in one months rent, or donating a old refrigerator. Other times what families want is tutoring for the kids.