The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates 3.5 million people are homeless in the United States in the course of a year, 39% of whom are children. Our homeless are veterans and senior citizens, babies, toddlers, youngsters, teens. The most representative face of homelessness is a single mother with children. Many homeless individuals are employed, sober, responsible. Others are addicts and alcoholics. Many struggle with health problems and medical bills that dramatically increase their economic vulnerability.
Most people who are homeless move through a variety of temporary and unstable living situations. Sometimes, people are “absolutely homeless” and live on the streets. Others are “shelter dwellers” on an emergency, temporary or long term basis. Some are the “hidden homeless”, staying temporarily with friends or family, and there are still others who are described as under-housed or “at-risk” of homelessness.
Many of the children who come to Scottie’s Place have lived in cars or sub-standard housing, in campgrounds and parking lots. Many have experienced the “doubled up” situation and the chaos and tension caused by sharing the homes of relatives or friends. Most of the children have lived in homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters, which are frequently crowded, frightening and institutional. A majority of the children are raised by a single mother, many have been in foster care, or are being cared for by their grandparents. Still other children come to Scottie’s Place while their families teeter on the brink of homelessness; they are children “at-risk” and they are also hungry and fearful.
Since 1999, Scottie’s Place has worked to address the special needs of these most vulnerable children. Through the years, Scottie’s Place has developed programs that provide adventure, tutoring, mentoring and challenge to hundreds of children affected by homelessness – from the mountains of West Virginia to the streets of Washington, DC At Scottie’s Place, children feel joy, curiosity, and wonder. They feel safe and cared for, renewed and inspired, and better able to face the challenges in their lives.