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Generational Homelessness

As a homeless adult, Sharon wanted to come to Pathways because she remembered how safe and comfortable she felt as a child client. She talked about how her mother was helped and how, as a child, she did not feel singled out at school because she had the same school supplies as all of the other children thanks to Pathways. At the time she contacted Pathways for herself, she was not on good terms with her mother. Sharon receives Social Security due to a physical disability that leaves her unable to work. Shortly after moving in to Pathways, she found out she was pregnant. Sharon described feeling alone and unsure of her ability to manage it all. Both Pathways staff and guests showered her with emotional support.

Sharon found an income-based apartment within walking distance of the shelter. She quickly made friends and keeps in touch with Pathways staff. She received assistance with baby items, help in managing her bills, and continued emotional support and encouragement. Before her baby was born, she and her mother reunited. Her mother was with her when Sharon’s healthy baby boy was born. Sharon, her mother, and her beautiful baby came by Pathways to visit recently, and they all seem to be doing well.

There probably is not a one-answer response to what causes generational homelessness. However, we can speculate on a few contributing factors, such as a lack of educational opportunity, being stuck in a certain socio-economical state, learned dependency on community services without offering the skills for self sufficiency, a lack of direct exposure to other life choices. These and more may give some notion of how generational homelessness may occur.

Carolyn Johnson is a social worker at Pathways. She can be reached at