There Should be Better, Safer Alternatives for Homeless Women

July 3, 2011

I am writing this letter full of questions and concerns about our Housing Department and Board of Social Services. I am a single mother of three, and I am homeless. I was in a domestic dispute with my children’s father and because of that I came to New Jersey in 2008. Since I have been here, I have been in a domestic violence shelter, homeless shelters, hotels, my own home and back into different shelters. I am currently seeking my own housing again, pending a transfer that has to occur between two separate counties.

I would like to shine some light on certain living conditions that the state allows women and children to reside in if they are homeless. The hotels and shelters they place us in are beyond unlivable. There are bed bugs, mice and drug addicts. Now tell me, would you want your children and grandchildren living in those kinds of conditions?

Now I know you’re probably asking yourself why I am homeless. It must be my own fault that I’m in the situation I am in. Not everyone is homeless by choice. And you really don’t know the circumstances of their homelessness. Everyone’s story is different. I am homeless because of domestic abuse from my partner. I was pregnant with my third child and I was beaten every day. To get away from the abuse, I came to New Jersey.

Someone has to take the first step for change and that will be me. New Jersey has too much money for there not to be better shelters and hotels for our homeless women and children. It’s sickening to learn about the conditions in these hotels. There are no microwaves to cook for the children. There are no refrigerators for food or for bottles to be stored for these children. Something needs to be done.

You may feel that you have more important things to worry about, but this is our next generation that we are talking about. These babies did not ask to be here, and they deserve something a lot better than what they are getting.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent shelter programs out there for women and children. But can you honestly say that it’s enough? Take the time and really take this concern into consideration. I do have every intention of making sure that the cries of our women and children are heard.

Ebonee Barnes

Willingboro, New Jersey

Source: http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/burlington_county_times_news/opinion/letters_to_editor/there-should-be-better-safer-alternatives-for-homeless-women/article_20a0bf62-1c7f-5082-9074-c30ed29243de.html