CLEVELAND — The story of a young girl and her family forced into homelessness, jumping from one shelter to another while battling a variety of other challenges, is not just a fictional account laid out in Andrea Elliot’s book, Invisible Child Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City. This Pulitzer Prize winner narrates a reality one too many families are struggling with – in secret.
“You come to understand that this isn't a matter of some family making bad choices, right? This is a matter of generational poverty and the impact that can have on a family's ability to even survive, much less thrive,” said Dan Moulthrop, CEO of The City Club of Cleveland. “There are children who are going to school with your children, with your grandchildren, who are homeless, who don't have a place to live. Family homelessness is such an invisible problem. We often don't see it because families will double up with another family, with a family member, that kind of thing.”
Moulthrop says this is why community discussions are important. The City Club’s program “One Community Reads” is set to host a string of public discussions in collaboration with local libraries.
“There's nothing like a book to help just move you from your own life into the lives of others and to build empathy. Reading is so vitally important and so fundamental to the human experience,” he explained. This book, Invisible Child, is very substantial, is moving. It is deep. It's heart-wrenching, but it is worth your time.”
While the end to family homelessness won't be immediate, Moulthrop says local and state policy is key. However, a community as a whole shining light on an invisible problem is a start.
“We as a community have this history of philanthropy, in this history of solving problems. And this is a problem that can be solved. There are great partners who are working on it all the time. We really hope that through this awareness building around the community, that we can provide and inspire people to provide more support to these entities and help to solve the problem.”
For more information and the One Community Reads discussion schedule, click here.