Uprooting your life after one storm is bad luck. Displacement from a second natural disaster is unimaginable, but unfortunately this is the reality for many families. Even families with savings accounts and plans for emergency situations can find themselves unprotected from the devastating effects of bad weather, and in certain circumstances, homeless.
A recent article from the Huffington Post describes one family’s unfortunate journey to homelessness caused by natural disasters: “This family had started out in New Orleans, lost its home in Katrina, moved to Nashville and lost that home in the floods. At that point the parents figured they might as well leave the next choice of destination to their 7-year-old daughter. And so they’d arrived on the steps of Disney, where they [are] now renting one of the two beds in their room to a Vietnam vet for a few extra dollars.”
This article focuses on the growing issue of homeless families living in hotels around the Disney World Resorts in Central Florida. “According to the U.S. Department of Education, at least 2,000 children live in the hotels of Central Florida…”
Central Florida attracts families in times of economic hardship because to some it is “the land of perfect weather and plentiful paychecks”. But shortly after arriving, these families find themselves in a very different world than what they expected.
Without finding a secure job, “[these] families run up a big bill and move to another hotel down the road. They called it “hotelin’.”
The Huffington Post article states, “For homeless families the lack of stability is arguably the biggest obstacle on the path to a better life.” The lack of stability is also a long-lasting and devastating effect on the children in these families. The article sites several supporting studies that highlight the effects on the development of a child and the risk factors of an unstable environment. A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that homeless children may move 3-4 times per year, and each move sets the child back about 6 months in their schooling.
Another study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that “children who live in poverty often have higher-than-normal levels of stress hormones, which can actually warp the architecture of the brain in ways that make these children more vulnerable to anxiety and depression and more prone to poor decision-making, and thus more likely to remain poor and to raise kids who will themselves remain poor.” This instability creates more instability argues the article “Bringing up a child in the chaotic conditions of poverty must be something like building a skyscraper on quicksand. Instability begets instability begets instability.”