Letter to the editor: Explosion in homelessness

To the editor:

The number of families with children experiencing or in danger of homelessness in Lawrence has exploded since the pandemic, but this tragedy has gone largely unnoticed. They don’t call attention to themselves. Teachers often can’t identify such vulnerable students until well into the school year, as the children want to avoid the stigma that goes with their plight. In a recent Journal-World article Family Promise director Dana Ortiz revealed that they are now serving four times as many families as they were before the pandemic. Since that article was written they have added another 13 families and now care for 181 children 18 and younger, plus 105 parents. This crisis is not visible in our community because Family Promise has managed to get them sheltered or keep them housed. We have some idea of how difficult it is for schoolchildren to learn when they are socially isolated. Add to that the anxiety of not knowing where they are going to sleep or when/if they are going to eat, and learning is virtually impossible. Until this crisis ends these numbers will only get worse. If you are fortunate enough that your children or grandchildren are not experiencing the trauma of actual or near homelessness, please reach out to our local agencies helping these families survive. These include Just Food, The Willow, Lawrence Community Shelter, Bert Nash, Catholic Charities, and Family Promise. They need volunteers, funds, food and prayers. Don’t miss your opportunity to make a real difference!

Joe Reitz,



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