Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Help Me Howard: Homeless Mom
It is unimaginable to most of us: a homeless mother with a 3-year-old son whose been living in her friend's car and guess what? She's not alone on the streets of South Florida. Here's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you aren't happy with your house or apartment, Lamonda Gordon would love to trade places with you.
Lamonda Gordon: "Everything me and my son own right now is packed into this car."
This Honda Civic was loaned to Lamonda and her son by a friend. It is now their home.
Lamonda Gordon: "I've been living in my car now for like a month, and I haven't had my own home or a stable place to stay in like six to eight months."
A homeless 3-year-old and his mother, a life most of us cannot imagine.
Son: "Mom, it keeps raining on me."
While we were talking to Lamonda it started raining. Time for Eric to move, so he doesn't get wet.
Lamonda Gordon: "Things are just bad. Sometimes I just feel like why, why is this happening to me. I have never been such a bad person. I always try to help other people."
But now Lamonda can't get any help. She has no family here. She couldn't find a job, couldn't pay her rent, got evicted from her apartment and can't find a bed for her and her little boy.
Lamonda Gordon: "I've tried Section Eight Housing, Workforce and DCF. I've tried to call the shelter to put my name on the waiting list, and they told me my name was on the waiting list, and I was like the 200 something person on the waiting list."
Like all of us, Lamonda has seen homeless people, but driving past a person is much different than being that person.
Lamonda Gordon: "Everybody is like, times are hard for everyone right now. I know, I understand that, but it is like, who is sleeping in their car? Who doesn't have a residence, don't have a place to really send their mail to?"
Eric is only 3 but even at that age, he has experienced things a little boy should not suffer through.
Lamonda Gordon: "Last Christmas, my son did not have a Christmas, you know."
Lamonda stops talking, afraid she will cry again.
Lamonda Gordon: "When I cry, he is like, 'Mommy, it is OK,' but I don't want him to even see that because it is not fair to him. It is not his fault."
Friends have let them shower at their house, but they don't have room for them. Finally, after 10 nights in the car, Lamonda convinced Eric's grandfather to let him sleep in his house. That makes her feel better, but it doesn't change much.
Lamonda Gordon: "That's why I turned to Help Me Howard. I mean, who do I have to call? I pray, there is almost so much I can do. I don't know what else I can do."
But is there a place for mothers like Lamonda to turn to for help, for housing, for hope, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Things are bad, very bad. There are many government agencies as well as private groups that have shelters for the homeless people and families, but the problem, and it is a large problem, is that there are too many homeless families and not enough beds. There is a long waiting list, and it can be devastating to a family, as you see with Lamonda."
Broward's government-funded homeless initiative partnership told us they have 100 families on their waiting list, that on a given night, 20 to 25 homeless families sleep in parks or cars. Lamonda is on their waiting list, but they couldn't move her ahead of the other families who are also homeless. We then got in touch with a private group called the Coalition to End Homelessness.
Pat Mantis: "Come on in, sweetheart, we have some fun things to do."
The coalition had a room for Eric and Lamonda. They will join five other families who had no place to stay.
Pat Mantis: "We are seeing a new face of the homeless. We are seeing a new face of families that otherwise you would not have imagined as being considered homeless."
The new face of homelessness, families, but tonight Lamonda has been given something she desperately needed, a bed and hope.
Lamonda Gordon: "I hope, at this point, everything gets better, and I don't have to backtrack or backslide, and I can just go on and have a positive future with my son. I'm just glad to have a place to lay my head now and have a bed to sleep in tonight."
Patrick Fraser: "Broward says they have 20 to 25 homeless families each night. The Dade Homeless Trust told us they have none, that if they have a family and have no room, they put them in a hotel. If you want to make a donation to homeless shelters or volunteer to help them, their phone numbers are on our web page.
Down on your luck but ready to lift yourself up? Contact us. Good people are doing good deeds all over South Florida, and we help them find a place for you.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Help for the Homeless:
211 in Broward or 1-888-537-0211 or 954-563-HELP
Miami-Dade County Homeless Helpline:
To Donate or Volunteer:
Coalition to End Homelessness
Community Partnership for the Homeless: