Every night Michelle Kennedy helped her three young children change into their pajamas, brush their teeth, and get tucked into bed. She would quietly rub their backs while reading a bedtime story to help them fall asleep. Michelle then climbed in her own bed, reclined, and pulled her clothes up around her face to stay warm. Most of the time, she could not sleep. Some nights, Michelle just leaned forward and silently cried into the steering wheel of her old Subaru wagon.
Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America is the true story of a young mother and her children who spent three months living out of their car. Michelle Kennedy never expected to be homeless. She grew up in a middle-income family in Vermont, attended American University, and worked as a page in the US Senate. Michelle was employed the entire time her family lived in a car.
Michelle’s story highlights the strength and perseverance needed to survive and ultimately move out of homelessness. One of the main reasons she was able to succeed was her strong network of friends and support. Without co-workers who took turns watching her kids, it would have been very difficult for Michelle to work, search for an apartment, or seek out support services. Her co-workers were there for her when she needed advice, food, or simply someone to laugh and relax with when she was feeling overwhelmed.
Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States. According to America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness 2009, 1.5 million children are homeless in America each year. They are not going to sleep tonight in their own home. Tonight they will be sleeping in shelters, motels, with family or friends, in cars, or worse.
Michelle Kennedy and her family survived this struggle. In Without a Net, Michelle shares her heartbreaking story to remind the reader that there are homeless families in America, and they need assistance.
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