Jewish World Review August 22, 2011 / 22 Menachem-Av, 5771
Working Poor Need a Place to Live
By Mitch Albom
You can. They can't. For the Wilsons, this is home. Married nine years and raising eight children (four from an earlier marriage), they found it one of the few places they have been able to rent.
She works. He works. They raise their kids. They go to church. Heck, they lived above a church for a while. They have endured a long, winding, pack-the-bags pattern, moving in with relatives, with friends, into shelters, back to rented duplexes. They are not unique. Just a family constantly in search of a home -- in a city that has more empty houses than it can count.
And now, despite a mold problem that hasn't been addressed by the landlord, they say they're being evicted for past due rent.
This is not a sob story. This is a
"We met working at
They landed in a
They lived there -- as a married couple -- until qualifying for a program that led to an apartment. That lasted two years. After that, times got tough again. They wound up living in a space atop
Imagine all this time trying to keep your children in school, trying to hold a job, trying to keep track of your possessions. Eventually, they saved up
"He gave us the keys," Kristy recalled. "That same day we found out he didn't own the house. And he ran with our money."
That led them to their current house in
There has to be a better way than this. Cynics might say, "Why have all those kids?" But no one says that to rich families.
Cynics might say, "Get a job." The Wilsons have. She works in a nursing home. He works for an alarm company. Neither can get full-time hours. But they are out there trying.
Kristy and Amando have not given up. They've stayed married at a time when vows are commonly disregarded. They go to work without a car, relying on busses or cheap taxis. They tell their children, "Things will get better."
I'm not saying the Wilsons are perfect. They have had issues like all of us.
But somewhere in this city there must be a place for them. And for other working families who are trying to make it. You hear constantly about houses in
A glut of buildings and an overdose of poverty should make matching needy families with places to live a lemons-to-lemonade situation. I know Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries is trying to help the Wilsons.
Because no American family should have to live with the smell and health hazards of their mold-infested basement. To have that potential poison near all those children is beyond tragic, it's just plain wrong. And it cries out for action.
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